Today I am feeling a little anxious, a little stomach swirly.
I need to talk some truth to myself.
So I am going to start with this, something I wrote a long time ago at the end of a very anxious day: Just because the day starts one way it doesn’t mean it will end the same way. Lots of days are redeemable. Truth.
Then, I am going to book the train tickets to visit my friend in London next month, even though right now that feels like something that will be ‘too much’, something I will not want to do. I will remember how I felt in the summer, how empowering being the capital (briefly) made me feel. I will remember how far I have come.
And then, this weekend, I am going to gather all my strength and book my hotel for the writers’ workshop I am going to in North Carolina in November (I know!!) I am going to make the transaction and as I do I will remember the words that have become a statement of hope and faith for me over the last couple of months: I am brave.
In August we spent a wonderful day Kew Gardens with one of my best friends in all the world . In the kitchen garden among the tomatoes and beans of all varieties, was a bench. On this bench there was a plaque with an epitaph which, after the woman’s name and the dates of her life, read ‘A Very Brave Lady’.
These words have stayed with me and are slowly being engraved on my heart
I am choosing to replace the word terrified with the word brave.
Rather than confessing, ‘I am feeling terrified’, I am deciding to say, ‘I am being brave’.
This is not some kind of faith declaration, name it and claim it nonsense.
Nor is this denial. It is not about pretending I am no longer scared, or trying to bury or repress those feelings. That kind of behaviour makes you very ill, in the end.
What this is, is an assertion of the whole truth. I am taking a reactive statement and making it proactive. I am giving myself back control.
Rather than being swept away by my emotional response to a certain situation, I am learning to recognise the emotional, and sometimes physical response, of my fear or anxiety.
And as I recognise what is happening I am also starting to speak the rest of the truth.
It may be scary but I am here.
It may be terrifying but I am still alive, still moving through this day, this moment.
And that makes me brave.
I am brave.
I used to think brave was a feeling, an emotion, that some people naturally had and others did not. I think I may have been getting confused with arrogance.
Brave is not an emotion, it is an action.
Therefore I can be brave.
Bravery looks like making it through the day.
Bravery looks like being honest about how you are feeling, recognising your weakness.
Bravery looks like knowing you need some time out, being willing to listen to your pain or fear and take the action your body and mind need. Bravery can look like cancelling plans, or acknowledging that your capacity is not as big as others might think.
Bravery looks like vulnerability, holding your wounds out for others to see. Bravery looks like saying, ‘me too’.
And sometimes, bravery looks like booking train tickets even though today that feels a bit scary, and booking a hotel even though today that feel impossible. Sometimes bravery looks like getting on that train, or plane, and being okay with it being a big deal, and the fact that you don’t feel totally calm and in control.
Because bravery is trusting that you are enough.
Glennon Doyle Melton (latest crush) has written about the sign she has hanging in her kitchen, it reads:
We can do hard things.
I can do hard things. I can remember what bravery really means.