Courage: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty

I was beating myself up this morning trying to figure out what a good theme would be to follow grief, but nothing came to me. After doing some creative work, I thought about the year I have planned ahead — sketchy plans, no lie — with some trepidation. What I want to do will be hard, it will be exhausting, it will be a challenge the likes I have not tackled since my last two semesters of graduate school.

I am wary and a bit scared, and with that realization, I knew today’s word: courage.

I have found in life that the old saw, “courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to overcome it” is absolutely true. There is no escaping fear, because it is a survival instinct hard-wired into our genetics. Fear is a life-saver.

But it is, sometimes, misapplied.

My fear is not about doing something dangerous or risky, not in the slightest. There will be no bungee jumping, no cave spelunking, no deep open-water ocean scuba dives. I don’t even have travel plans. No surgeries or medical procedures on deck (let’s keep it that way, ‘k?). Short of crossing the street during rush hour to get to my bus stop, there is nothing on the schedule that might endanger my life in any way.

Still, I’m scared.

I can’t explain the fear away, or rationalize myself past it, despite my relative safety. No, the fear is real, even if inconvenient and misapplied. It is a real thing, no matter how ridiculous it is.

I’m scared of losing time, of putting myself all in on a project that will take up hours of my life every week on top of everything else I have going on such as my day!job and taking care of my dog and attending a college-credit fine art class. I’m scared of becoming exhausted, of feeling overwhelmed. I’m not, ironically, scared of failure. While I don’t know if the project will be as successful as the goal I aim for, I’ll still end up having made progress by trying to hit it.

In a way, it will be a lot like having a second job. I’ve held down multiple jobs before and while I hate doing so, it’s definitely doable.

So this is me, acting out my courage in 2017: planning to do the thing despite my fear.

Also published on Medium.

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