I took a speech class when I was in college to help me when speaking before crowds of people. It did help, but not how you might think. I never gained the confidence to fearlessly address people, I simply learned how to do it afraid. To this day I still tremble inside when standing before a large group of people, but my stomach being full of butterflies is something only I notice. Others can’t see that my palms are sweaty, my mind is racing and my knees are knocking. To them, I’m confident and brave.
The thing I noticed about bravery is that it feels like fear, but looks like courage. To everyone else, you appear confident, fearless and heroic, but on the inside you feel nauseous, shaky, and hesitant. You feel as if you are going to melt into a puddle on the floor. I’m so glad that even though I feel as if I’m about to fall apart, I don’t.
Yesterday my bravery was tested. I woke up to a new multiple sclerosis symptom that is not very common but does happen. I made my way into the bathroom for my normal morning routine to brush my hair and my teeth and noticed that the right side of my face was drooping. My right eye won’t open fully and the corner of my mouth is pulled tight almost as if a piece of invisible tape is stuck to it pulling it towards my ear. I tried massaging the muscle with my hand but nothing I did seemed to help. I even upped my muscle relaxers. No change.
I am currently on a round of steroids to help correct things but it may take a week or so for me to actually see any positive change. I’m believing for the best even while I’m scared half out of my wits at my current new normal.
Think back at the times you wanted to quit because you were scared. You kept going even though you were unsure of how things would work out. You were brave. You chose to do the very thing that scared you regardless of how much your heart was racing or the fact that you wanted to give up. You chose to do it afraid.
Everything we do in life has some risk involved. Life itself is full of risks. The moment you get out of bed you are stepping into the unknown, and that can be scary. Some days more so than others, but scary nonetheless.
When I think about what it means to be brave, I think about being afraid but doing it anyway. I think about the times I wanted to quit, but chose to keep going. Each day you venture out into the unknown…afraid…afraid of what the day may hold or of what tomorrow may bring. Your knees are knocking, your palms are sweaty, you heart is trembling, fearful and uncertain, but you do it anyway…you are brave.
Bravery isn’t a pill you can take along with your handful of vitamins and meds each day. It’s not a matter of never being afraid. It means pushing through your fears. You are brave whether you feel like it or not when you simply keep going. Remember all the things you’ve overcome, the challenges you’ve faced, the crazy MS symptoms you’ve pushed through…you were brave then, you can be brave again.