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It has been almost one year since we moved here.  As I think back on this, I still hear the reactions of friends and family to our plans to relocate.  Specifically, I’m reminded of those who made comments about how brave I am.  I’ve heard it before.  Each time I hear it, I think it’s one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard.

I was very (very) shy growing up.  I was afraid of all kinds of things … animals, people, just about anything, real or imagined.  My aunt had a story she loved to tell me – I was maybe two years old and my mom brought me over so my aunt could babysit.  My mom set me down on a chair and left.  There I sat for two hours. My aunt (who I absolutely positively loved) offered snacks, drinks, fun activities.  But, I stayed right there. It was no reflection of my aunt.  Did I mention how much I loved her?  I was shy.

At the end of eighth grade, I was voted least likely to talk.  My predicted future career – a librarian … perceived to be a nice quiet career, I suppose.  My classmates were kids I had known since first grade.  But, I was shy.

The idea of starting high school – new buildings, new teachers, new staff, and tons of new kids – scared the dickens out of me.  But, I was tired of being the one who was “least likely to talk”.  Even if it was true.  I decided to try to reinvent myself.  Almost no one at the school knew me.  I could be more outgoing … more normal.  I was still me.  I didn’t change who I was.  But, everyday I went to school and talked … out loud … to people.  That was a big deal for me.  Huge.  But, on the inside I was always scared and wanted to go hide somewhere.

It’s always been like that.  It still is.  A self-diagnosed agoraphobic, I’m still very shy and oftentimes scared.  But, by the time I started junior high, I was tired of my fear stopping me  … holding me back.

I’ve done many things while still scared, sometimes terrified.  Big things.  Little things.  Relocating my family halfway across the country where I knew no one … that was a big thing.

So, while preparing to move, I was told once again by a few people that they thought I was brave.  (This might very well be their nice way of saying I’m crazy.  I know this.  I’m not fooled.)  I disagreed with them every time.  Then a friend from grade school – who I think of as brave, courageous, outgoing – said I was brave.  (She also said I had a pair of male-only body parts.  Which I know I don’t.  Literally or figuratively.)  It seemed so ludicrous.  It just made no sense to me.  It never did.

I sat down at the computer and looked up the definitions of brave and courage.  I found a few quotes as well.  Then I came to a new understanding of the words.  To be brave or courageous  can mean that I am still scared, but I don’t let my fears stop me.

I am brave!  I am courageous!  …  And I’ll bet you are, too!  Did you know you were?  If not, I hope you know it now.

“Understand that it is okay to be scared or uncertain.  However, right beyond those barriers ultimately lies your dreams.” ~ Josh Hinds

View from an airplane window above the clouds. This picture says many things to me. One of them is 'brave'.

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