“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” Anaïs Nin
“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” Maya Angelou
A year ago I had a bicycle accident. It left me with multiple leg and ankle fractures and six months stuck in a gruesome metal frame with very low mobility. It was a big shock. Finding how to manage that situation and find silver-linings from the experience taught me a bit about bravery. I have been learning to walk again, I have been challenged about what I want to do with my life – but I wasn’t fighting for my life.
“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” E.E. Cummings
So if it’s clearly different for everyone, what does “finding your brave” mean? The Merriam Webster Dictionary says bravery is the state of having “mental or moral strength to face danger, fear or difficulty” – ok, but to me this lacks a sense of verve, intent or desire to face these things.
“And the trouble is, if you don’t risk anything, you risk more” Erica Jong
The challenge is how to do it – what is the roadmap to kickstarting your best life?
- Have a vision. “What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it… You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” Maya Angelou
- Take the stress away “Regard everything as an experiment” Sister Corita Kent, the amazing 1960s kick-ass Pop Art Nun, Warhol’s superior, she broke stereotypes and was her awesome creative self. https://www.theguardian.com/
- Just do it “The secret of getting ahead is getting started” Sally Berger. Find your internal blockers – in my case time management and do something about it. Plan. Find a friend!
- “Do one thing every day that scares you. Eleanor Roosevelt
This could be doing something physically brave out of your comfort zone. Ten girl friends and I cycled Mumbai to Goa in 2019 and I had barely been on a bike before – it was the hardest thing beyond childbirth…but great when it stopped. It could be something intellectually brave as in reading or listening to things that you would not normally do – I have started reading Japanese literature such as Haruki Murakami and Brazilian writers such as 1930s avant-garde Clarice Lispector. It could be something culturally brave. Are there things that your culture expects you to do or not to do that are very limiting? How can you overcome this?
- Avoid the echo chamber. Beat the algorithm – don’t get sucked into the vortex of social media or TV. “It is our choices, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities” JK Rowling
- Refresh your network – don’t’ get stuck – mix it up.
- Find your voice – This could be vocal, it could be creative, it could be nurturing, there are many interpretations but it goes to essence of standing up for who you are. Watch out for our WIAS / IMPower FundForum Workshop April 7th.
“It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent” Madeleine Albright
“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” Winston Churchill
So what is my brave and how am I finding it?
When I was recovering from my accident I rediscovered my creative voice and am on a new journey. I am now applying to art college in a way that fits in with everything else. I intend to storm into the next act of my life with colour, verve new creative connections and collaborators across the world and a great deal of love and fun with family and friends. I am trying to be better at time management and following my rules above – but most probably breaking them which is also ok.
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” Maya Angelou.
… and the more I say it, the more likely it is to happen.
“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.” Coco Chanel
This is a guest post by Jenny Adams, Global Executive Producer at IMPower