Sometime in November or December, I decided I was going to have a word to focus on this year and that word was going to be "Courage" because I was sick of letting fear hold me back.
I've always been a fearful, high strung person. I got it from my grandma, at least according to her. In some ways I took a little weird sense of pride in that. Maybe it was because I spent so much time with her and she was more of a grown up friend than a grandmother. So I loved being like her- even if it was in the unfortunate way I squealed at slugs. As I've gotten older my high strung fears have evolved. I no longer hide my head in the couch cushions during thunder storms (though I have considered it once or twice) and I don't get squeamish around many insects. Instead I worry and over analyze and sit back and watch others rather than doing. I hate making phone calls. I hate asking for favors. I'm horrible in situations with a lot of people. I mean on a surface level, I'm fine. I can small talk with the best of them. I just can't further the relationship easily.
But I decided that I was going to stop letting fear rule my life. If I was afraid of something I would simply look it in the face and say, "yes, I am afraid but fear shouldn't stop me from doing this." As I'm writing this, I'm realizing that subconsciously I got a lot of my mindset from Elizabeth Gilbert's podcast Magic Lessons and book Big Magic and just made it my own. At the time I didn't realize and now I don't think she'd mind. In fact, I'd like to think she'd proud of me for choosing to tell fear I'm not gonna let it control me.
And then I take it a step further. I give myself a pep talk before doing the scary thing-usually calling myself Jackie Giles because talking to myself in formal third person seems to be effective. And it's helped me do a lot of things-some things I have to do regardless but it makes them easier to-and others I wouldn't do. Like going to a complete stranger at my new church and, terrified, saying, "I'm new. Where should I go for Sunday school." And then the next day showing up to a complete strangers house for a Memorial Day cookout. Or showing up to a dance class alone and scared to walk in by myself.
Back in the winter, I had no clue how much I needed my word to be "courage." I didn't know I'd move to a big city three hours away from home in a new state. I didn't know where I'd be six months in the future, and I still don't know exactly where I'll be six months from now. But I'm gonna focus on being brave and having courage and giving myself grace when I can't find the courage. Like right now. I lost my words and took an unexpected writing hiatus, but I'm coming back because I need to write the way my grandfather needs to ride horses and the way my father needs to be outside hunting or fishing. It makes me come alive even though every single time I share something that's real, my heart beats fast and I feel vulnerable for a long time afterwards.
Sometimes it's scary too, but scary doesn't mean bad. A lot of awesome things have happened because people decided not to let fear rule their lives.
So, dear friends, what are you letting fear keep you from doing?
"You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do."