I was talking with a friend of mine last week about life and making courageous choices. She was one of the first people to know once we had made the decision to move abroad, so she saw the full range of emotions that we went through as we weighed the options and thought about what was best for our family. She now finds herself weighing some decisions in her own life – the possibility of making a career change and learning to say ‘no’ after years of saying ‘yes’ to projects and clients that have left her feeling depleted and frustrated.
The conversation reminded me that whether you are choosing a new career path or moving halfway across the world, it takes courage to change – no matter how big or how small those changes may be.
The day I walked out of my office with a few boxes and over a decade worth of memories, I had no idea how much life was about to change. Three weeks later, I boarded a plane with my family. Life would never be the same.
Some people called me brave and courageous, others insisted I was a fool. And what I realized was that it simply didn’t matter what anyone else thought, it only mattered that we were doing what we thought was best and right for us. And sometimes simply living life according to what makes you happy is the most courageous choice you can make.
It doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else.
While leaving everything familiar was a bold move, what the last year has taught me is that courage is often more than just being brave or stepping outside your comfort zone. Courage can be stepping into a truer, more authentic version of yourself – living life on your own terms as opposed to someone else’s and allowing yourself to embrace vulnerability along the way.
I remember years ago, an author I was working with had an incredible story that had the potential to help a lot of people. Her editor and I were anticipating the final manuscript. We knew the story had its painful moments but we also knew that her struggle was beautiful and looked forward to seeing how it came to life on paper. But when we got the final manuscript, it only skimmed the surface. The emotion of her story proved to be too much. After several attempts at pushing her to go deeper, it simply didn’t happen.
While we couldn’t fault her for not wanting to dive into the darkness of those moments, we struggled because we knew the freedom that comes from vulnerability.
I started thinking about fear and why it can be so crippling in our lives when contemplating change, setting out into uncharted territory, having to navigate through the unknown, or in the case of the author, telling her story.
For my friend, learning to embrace her ability to say ‘no’ is a tremendous act of courage. And just like it was a choice for us to move across the world and embrace the changes that came with that decision, she is choosing to make a choice about who and what she allows in her professional life. And it is liberating. I could hear it in her voice and know it from my own experience.
When we first arrived in Australia, my son was struggling with morning drop off at school and trying to sort out the routine. Everything was new and it was overwhelming. Those mornings were often accompanied by discussions about facing our fears and reminders that everything would be okay. I wasn’t sure I believed it just yet myself but I knew I had to be strong for him and for our family.
I thought of those early moments again this week – the challenges of being the new kid, in a new country. Lessons we all carry with us from the last year. When we first arrived, I worried about my children the most, hoping things would fall into place for them. And while I knew they were resilient, it took a bit longer than I thought it would – particularly for our son. And if I am being honest, for me as well.
One of my uncles once told me, “when you become a parent it is like wearing your heart on your sleeve. When your children are happy, you are happy. And when your children hurt, you hurt with them.”
Now, as I watch my children thriving with confidence in their new surroundings, I find myself overcome with emotion. I am beyond proud of the two of them and the incredible small humans they have become. Yes, they have their moments when they test every ounce of patience or push the boundaries to the brink, but what kids don’t have those moments? And what parents don’t find themselves frustrated at times? It comes with the territory.
And while my prompts to rise above and face fear were often met with eye rolls and “yeah, yeah mom,” I realized perhaps they were actually listening.
My children are young and have me to be that constant reminder for them, but what about adults that need to learn to do that for themselves?
Nobody is as invested in you, as you.
Being brave, finding courage, accepting who you are – it’s an inside job. If you are too busy looking to others to help define those things for you, you will almost always come up empty handed.
It isn’t someone else’s job to make you feel good about yourself, it’s your job.
Sometimes courage comes in the form of sharing your story, while other times it can be something as massive as moving across the world to choose what you believe will be a better life for your children. There are many different singular acts of courage and circumstances that challenge us to be brave, but one of the most courageous things we can do in life is to simply be ourselves.
Authenticity is courageous. Being unapologetically you is courageous. Making bold decisions is courageous. Sharing your story is courageous. Standing up for what is right is courageous.
This week, let’s all challenge ourselves to get to work on the inside job. Is there something that is holding you back from courageously living an authentic life? Are you struggling to make a choice about your career path, a relationship, a move? Or maybe you are scared to simply be yourself for fear of judgment.
Whatever the circumstances, be courageous in your pursuits – of happiness, of the truth, of yourself, of life.
Cheers to a new week and daring to be courageous.