Find Your Courage in the Small Moments

The following is the second in a series of life lessons where I explore what fueled my resolve, not only to recover but to live a fulfilling life. Enjoy the second installment. You can read the previous entry here.

You’ve heard me talk a lot about resolve. Though I was seventeen at the time I experienced the early signs of it, I didn’t realize until later that’s what was fueling my recovery. 

Resolve is a mindset that locks on to rails heading in one direction, and no amount of disruptive input will cause you to jump the tracks. Resolve can help you make that first incremental move beyond point A and, eventually, all the way to point B. You might be wondering what’s behind resolve. 

For me, there was plenty of naivete. I thought, “I’ll be back on my feet soon, and everything will be like it was before the fire. Tell me what I need to do to get better.” As the days in bed wore on and the bandages were replaced by a compression mask for two years, I grew up quickly. A more mature understanding of my recovery took the place of the innocent one. 

That’s when courage came into play. Courage became the backbone of my resolve. 

There are many kinds of courage. When we consider courage, most of us imagine blockbuster movies where a hero saves the day and has a special set of skills to fight off the villains. The more common and hardworking version of courage is the smaller, less grand, but heroic moments that amount to a courageous life. 

Friends and family called my decision to lead a fulfilling life courageous. I just wanted to be out in the world and find my happiness. For me, that was choosing a career where I would interact with clients, connect with community members through volunteerism, and take leadership positions where I would have a positive impact on helping others. Everyone who cared about me felt like these choices meant too much face time. They worried about all those possibly uncomfortable interactions. 

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than one’s fear.”

James Neill Hollingworth

What they didn’t plan on was my willingness to diffuse potential discomfort and break the ice. If bravery means putting others at ease with a quick joke or calling the situation like it is, then maybe I am brave. If that’s the case, then let me encourage you with this idea: Everyone is called upon to have courage in their own lives. Not the movie-hero kind. The everyday, common kind. That is the stuff of great lives.

Perhaps you’re a leader who has to summon the backbone to say what needs to be said no matter how unpopular, or you’re a volunteer who needs to organize something you’ve never done before, or you’ve had a falling out with a friend and you need to extend the first olive branch. Regardless of the situation, test your bravery. 

Courage is like a muscle. The more you work the muscle, the better you’ll be at the next challenge. The world needs the smaller moments of bravery that add up to fulfilling lives. I leave you with this thought: Find your strength in what may feel like insignificant moments. I assure you they add up to something very significant. Just ask the people who witness them.

Live beyond your mask,