How do you define yourself? Do your friends see a different “true you” than your family, or your co-workers? Do you experience fear at the thought of any of those groups crossing over? Are any of them seeing the the person you see inside yourself? Sometimes it’s not discovering your world that takes the courage, it’s sharing that world with others.
Last November I came to a realization; courage isn’t always in the doing of a thing, sometimes its in the sharing of that thing with the world. I participated in NaNoWriMo and wrote the first 50,000 words of a novel. I didn’t share the fact that I was participating with many people beforehand. Being an author was one of those things that as a 7-year-old I’d always used as my answer to “What are you going to be when you grow up?” like some kids would say astronaut or fireman.
But, I did it. I finished, and when I stood up to stretch after writing the last few words I felt this amazing sense of empowerment. Like having done that I could now go out and do anything. A few weeks later I participated in a training program with many of my co-workers in which I was asked to define myself and my personal message. I was still riding the high of that wave of empowerment and I boldly sketched out a paragraph about myself as a creative writer who was working on her first novel, deftly tying it in to the creative aspects of my current job, and then quite abruptly realized that I was going to have to share this personal messaging with other people. Co-workers actually, most of whom I hardly knew, as I worked for the most part remotely.
I remember sitting in that auditorium waiting nervously for it to be my turn, and when it was I pulled together what courage I could muster and I shared with a group of near strangers (which included an executive vice president who regularly terrified me) that I was an aspiring novelist. And it felt great. For the first time most of these people were seeing me as more that just the anonymous face at the other end of an email, were seeing that I had abilities beyond those required for my job. In that moment I discovered that reaching my initial writing goal was merely the first step in embracing my true self, and that taking the risk of sharing that self with others was the next. In my case, the confidence boost that came from that brief moment of courage has served to encourage me in what I hope will one day be my life’s work. It has allowed me refine my view of myself, and given me the courage to continue sharing that truth with others.