Etymologically, courage is just acting in consonance with what's in your heart. It's not so much not being afraid, or even "feeling the fear and doing it anyway". It's just being authentic. And that's plenty scary enough, thank you very much. It's like when you're a teenager and people tell you "just be yourself" and you think "Terrific. What the heck does THAT mean???" I'm not used to looking into my heart and seeing what's there.
Nor do I have long experience being brave. I'd never really needed to be brave until recently. So, I may be drawing conclusions from too little data, but it seems to me that the pattern is that I limp (or maybe crawl, and sometimes desperately broken) toward something that looks like a healthy outcome. Then, much later, I can walk, run and possibly even fly. I said I wouldn't ignore the signs life offers, and I'm trying to honor that intention. Nor do I want this post to be just another bemoaning of the truth that every day requires courage. It does, and I wish it were otherwise. The thing I wanted to know is WHAT courage is required of me.
I have to look at my goals and dreams for myself. Might these new opportunities bring me closer to them? Yes, it seems clear that they might. But, I'm afraid that if I pursue these opportunities, I might not get them. I might not be skilled enough or smart enough or nice enough... or whatever. Then my feelings will be hurt, and my battered self esteem will take another hit. Seriously, how many can it sustain? On the other hand, NOT pursuing them guarantees the outcome. Things stay the way they are, until I work up the courage to change them.
I've survived rejection. It hurts. Oh my lord how it hurts. But on the face of it, if I pursue these opportunities and nothing good happens, I'm no worse off than I am now. The water could be muddied a bit, but I think I could survive that.
So the courage I need to find is the courage to put myself out there and take some chances. It could turn out that I AM smart enough and skilled enough. Maybe one opportunity comes through and not the other. Maybe I get both of them to come through for me. I need to step forward rather than back. That's the courage I need right this minute.
Christopher Robin tells Pooh:
Pooh, Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”Jill and my sibs and others regularly remind me that my experiences, choices, perspectives, and needs have value. Acting as though I believe them will have to do for now ;) Perhaps actual belief will follow. But I think my heart is telling me that I could both blossom and make some meaningful contributions in these potential new opportunities. So... suck it up and put yourself out there.
I guess that's the conclusion.