This weekend I have had a few conversations in which the words courage, fear and brave fell. Taking this line of thought and building on yesterday’s entry Hard Man, what does it all mean these days?

With the axe of redundancy hanging above her head, I tried to persuade a friend that now might be the time to at least explore other employment options before she heard the final decision. She was reluctant as this would mean potentially moving somewhere new on her own and she said:  I am not as brave as you.

It stunned me into silence when I wanted to confess as I do to you: I do not feel brave and probably never have done. Even my initial emigration at 17 was not brave, honestly it was more a mix of naivety and youthful invincibility. This I do not say with an air of melancholy or cynicism – imagine it more matter of fact. If you are lucky at 17, you will feel like you can rule the world.

I find it hard to imagine that anyone would think themselves brave or courageous. What does it mean? Does it mean getting into fights, stepping towards that confrontation, winning? Fear on the other hand is often quickly deemed silly, fear of dentists, fear of the dark, fear of failing – after all you need to be in it to win it.

So with fear being silly and courageousness being undervalued, no wonder 20 somethings with a perpetual quarter-life crisis are confused.

The online dictionary defines it as follows:

1. the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery. 

I disagree, I believe that fear is integral to courage. I think I once defined courage in a philosophy class as ‘acting despite fear’. (Purely theoretical of course: I was 17 and still invincible at the time.)

Fear is everywhere and fear is personal; we all seem to fight or hide from our own personal demons at times. As a result, courage is also everywhere and also very personal but if we can admire others, we should praise ourselves.

Let’s take credit for all small courageous acts we complete during the day, whether it is going to work, trying new foods, signing up for a course, exploring the neighbourhood or simply getting up, showered and dressed in the morning.

It is ok to fear, as they say: it is your heart’s way of telling you that if anything, you are still alive. ( This temporary flux of optimism is purely theoretical of course: I am 24 going on 105 and pretty much crest-fallen at the best of times!)

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