Where fearlessness is elusive, be brave


I was reading a little something about the difference between being fearless and being brave. I am not fearless, never have been. I can remember a time going off to swimming lessons in a town that still doesn’t have a heated pool. I used to stand at the side of the pool shivering with goose-pimply skin for what felt like hours willing myself to just jump in already into the cold morning water. It’s silly, of course. There was nothing to fear about cold water except the cold.

What I was fearing was getting uncomfortable, but I did it anyway and that makes be brave.

And once, in what seems forever ago, I was having a conversation with a woman who prompted me to get this blog going and we were discussing whether it matters or not if your fear is based on success or failure. I still don’t have the answer to that one.

Thing 2 and his friend X-Man were playing a very imaginative and inventive game yesterday. I couldn’t and didn’t try to follow it’s development. All I know is that it grew organically from whatever nine year old boys discuss. They were all over the house talking, crawling, and using various voices. Without warning, there would be intense and loud bursts of action. I gently steered them out of the kitchen upon the mild protest that, “Our whole house isn’t big enough for this game!” I found myself wondering how many days I have left of this fearless immersion into imaginary play.

Soon enough it won’t be cool. If I know Thing 2, his interest will linger long after others have moved on to team sports and Monday night football games. Will he be brave enough to admit it and persistent enough to find others like him?

If I think back to my little nine year old self waiting by the pool for a burst of fearlessness, I would still be there because fearlessness is not a part of who I am. I don’t think I have ever had a truly fearless moment. Reckless, yes, but not fearless.

But I can be brave.

And more than anything, this is what I want my kids to be. Some of us just aren’t born with that “I’m going for it no matter what” factor. We worry about what others think and how we will look or perform or not perform. We weigh the risks versus our desires and often the risks win out.

I just want my kids to know that being brave is feeling the fear and doing whatever scares you anyway. I fear I am starting to sound like a self-help book from the 90’s. Oh yes, here it is! I once owned a copy of this. I don’t remember anything it said except for the title. See? I was scared back then, too!

At any rate, lead by example. It’s time to get my brave on.