2016 word of the year: Brave

by - January 01, 2016

Late last year an intimidating mentor figure told me “You are brave. Continue to be brave.” when I felt least like it. And coming from her that means a lot, seriously a lot.

Back then, I was quite the timid and scaredy kid; afraid of all sorts of things like sea waves, roller coasters, big tall slides, speaking to strangers, poking myself with a contact lens, and the like. Thinking about it, sometimes I did want to go back in time and shake that little kid to knock some sense into her; because really? Who went to Disneyland and refused to ride Space Mountain?!  Ugh…

As time goes, I did learn to get over some fears and let go of others. These days I do enjoy roller coasters and big tall water slides and splashing in the sea. You just won’t find me in deep waters under massive rolling waves. Or bungee jumping. I would ride the 90° drop water slide but only once per water park visit, thanks. I am not a fan of public speaking but would do it if I really have to. Also you wouldn’t really find me doing team ball games due to the fear of letting down my teammates  - I wasn’t born with athletic genes. I did join a mixed - MIXED! futsal game last year, on a whim and so out of my character. And even though it didn’t go well (teammate feedback: “Don’t be scared of the ball!”), I was pretty proud of myself for saying yes in the first place. Probably wouldn’t do it again unless in life or death situation haha…

It’s mostly the tricky psychological fears: of the unknown, not being good enough, change, breaking away from comfort zone, letting down others, saying no, being lonely, driving after a car accident, failure, etc, etc… Funny how some fears dissipate with maturity, while some seed and develop with time.

Don’t we all want to be brave? (Not reckless. Not an adrenaline junkie) Anyway, I don’t have any original recipe or tips on how to be brave - Google has plenty. I don’t think I am a particularly brave person.

I don’t think fear and bravery are polar opposites; being brave is meaningless if one doesn’t feel afraid first. I don’t think fear is 100% negative, after all it’s built in to protect ourselves. It helps me to know my true self. I find fear has a lot to do with pride, confidence and self image, and faith. Being afraid immobilises and robs one’s freedom. It is draining and tiring you out.

Being vulnerable and owning up to the fears could be strangely liberating, choosing to confront them too. Embracing and enjoying the experience sounds really beautiful but a hella challenge. Sense of humour helps a great deal. Being kind to oneself is really, really crucial. Practicing is necessary. Taking a deep breath and slowing down is good for the soul.

I think being brave is an infinite journey. One just have to choose her battles carefully :)

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