The choices we make in life are so important. Many of us are in crisis, be it financial, mental, emotional, and so on. Choosing courage over fear isn’t easy. It requires vulnerability, which isn’t comfortable and can seem super scary. The reality is the most courageous act we can take in life is to be vulnerable.
Pandemic life has tested my limits of reasonability and anxiety. Every decision I’ve made has resulted from a delicate balance between its risk and its reward. What am I willing to get COVID-19 for, is the real question I ask myself. A trip to the grocery store? A haircut? Lunch with a friend? NOTHING is the answer, the ONLY answer. I don’t want to get sick. Forget me, I don’t want to get the ones I love most sick, especially not my baby girl or any of my immune-suppressed family members. It’s simply not worth it.
Since March, I’ve been living in as tight a bubble as I can, barely breathing. Everything was sterilized from top to bottom. Whenever I came home from leaving the house, I had significant anxiety and even went through the drive-through at my local CVS to pick up my allergy meds.
Here’s how it went down: Window down—mask on—glasses on, for extra protection. Don’t forget to hold your breath. Window up. Sanitizer on…my hands, the steering wheel, the shifter. Everything. I pull in my driveway. Sanitizer again. Psych myself up to just walk in and hit the bathroom. Don’t touch anything! Wrap a tissue around my hand, open the door to the house. Take off my shoes, leave them there. Race to the bathroom. The tissue in the garbage. Wash my hands. Wash my arms. Wash the mask. Rewash my hands and arms. Hand sanitizer EVERYWHERE. Disinfect the sink. Whew. Almost done. Run upstairs, rip off all of my clothes and toss them into a bag I will throw into the laundry. Change into my non-COVID-19 clean clothes. Wash my hands and sanitize everything AGAIN. Go downstairs and sigh. Then, the horror hits. I should have showered. Now I’ve contaminated everyone! What is wrong with me?
Finally, COVID-19 begins. First, the sore throat, then the dry cough, and the headache follows. No fever…YET!
In an hour or so of being distracted by the busy of home, my symptoms are gone. Of course, they were all in my head—just my mind playing tricks on me. Although I did leave my protective-sanitized-bubble and exposed myself and (Dear God, No!) my family. Did I really need those allergy meds? Indeed, I could have survived without them. What have I done?!
STOP. It had to stop. I have anxiety on a typical day. Add COVID-19 into the mix, and I’m screwed. I stop living. So, what did I do? I take Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead class. And guess what? It helped!
We dove into vulnerability, courage, fear, anxiety, grief…you name it. And we did it with grace, safety, openness, and love. We took long hard looks at ourselves and made choices about who we were and who we wanted to become. And I decided I was DONE being a victim of my anxiety, to COVID-19. Something had to change before I lost myself this year. So it did.
Granted, it’s not perfect. I still have my bouts with anxiety and fear because (Shocker!), I’m human. But it’s much better now. And now, six months later, it’s time to emerge, sanitizer in hand.
Here’s how I shakily took three MAJOR steps for me to choose courage over fear:
- Outdoor dining on my anniversary! I hadn’t been out to dinner since my anniversary LAST year. It was time. I said to my husband, “I can’t believe we waited all summer to eat out. We should’ve started in June.” To which, he replied, “We weren’t ready in June.” So true. You have to do things on your terms, your timeline.
- I got my hair done in a salon. Okay, mega-anxiety there. My gray roots were six inches long, and I couldn’t handle the brown root-spray bottles I was going through weekly. Besides, I felt like an old, worn-out hag (new mom, no sleep), and it was depressing. It was time for a lift. And again, it was fine! They were super safe and even had the virus killing lights installed. Confession: I have one in my home, too.
- The scariest of all, however, isn’t about COVID-19. It’s something Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead class fired up in me. Writing non-fiction. It’s been a secret desire for years, as long as I’ve been a fiction writer, for sure. But the courage to do so? Nope. Not even after my year-long coach training to become a CPC (certified professional coach). No certificate could make it possible. That is until I took Dare to Lead Training. Mind you, I’ve read the book, listened to the book, and followed the podcast. Something about coming clean to my peers in a virtual class, a safe place, about things I wasn’t comfortable talking about with anyone, opened up something inside me. It became my mission to go down the non-fiction road.
Soon enough, I will be ready to share my non-fiction with the world, in all of its e-book, print book, and audiobook formats. COVID-19 challenged me. Brene Brown inspired me. Choosing courage over fear is all about being vulnerable. You can’t have courage without vulnerability. Being vulnerable is the ultimate act of courage. This is a new territory essential for my growth for someone who was once driven by anxiety and fear. As it turns out, I learned in my Dare to Lead class that growth was one of my two top values. Thank you, Thank you, Brene.
No matter what you want, if fear is holding you back, I say go for it anyway. Do it on your timeline. Your terms. It’s your life, your story. Be vulnerable. Choose courage over fear. I’ll be here to cheer you on, all the way!