What does being brave really mean?
Many people have often said to me how brave I have been in changing career, in setting up my own businesses, in doing things that are not necessarily society's expected routes when it comes to earning a living.
Yet those steps have never felt brave to me, in fact sometimes I have actually wondered if they are more reckless and crazy than brave, but the truth is they were essential steps I had to make. It wasn't a case of taking a risk and keeping my fingers crossed, I genuinely knew that in order for me to live my life from a place of joy, I absolutely had to take those steps.
It goes right back to when I wanted to begin a career in PR and Marketing and decided that after working for a couple of months in a business to business agency, in an industry that did not interest me in the slightest, I would just set up on my own and see what happened.
It never felt that scary, I always took the attitude of... well if it doesn't work then I can always find another job... and the universe rewarded me with an amazing portfolio of clients and a lot of fulfillment in my work. It flowed pretty easily in all honesty - so it never felt brave.
Of course there were times in the running of that business when I was scared. I had to take leaps, I had to do my first pitch, I had to take more and more responsibility, I hired other people to work with me, I had to face up to not only winning clients and keeping them, but also when clients decided to move on. Not easy things to do, but I didn't really see them as brave, just essential parts of my growth.
true courage is something I have had to face in other ways.
And of course, when I talk about bravery and courage in this context, it is relative to my own life and the privileges I have in my own journey. I am talking about this from a person who has a roof over their head, food in their fridge and who lives in a part of the world where I do not have to fear for my life on a daily basis.
Which is one of the reasons why, I guess, I have struggled in the past to see what I have done in my life as brave. When there are people in the world who have to live in a constant state of fear - but not fear over whether they will have people listen to their podcast when they launch it, or what someone might think when you start writing about periods - fear over whether they are going to live from one day to the next.
It makes me question what brave really is.
However, one thing I have learned is not to compare my story to other people's stories, because actually what is going on for me is relevant and important, and so what does brave really mean, to me?
Being brave for me is far deeper than just doing something.
The ultimate courageous act, I believe, in relation to my life, is all about truth and honesty and about being open to allow curiosities to take me to places I didn't even know I could go.
Being brave is showing up for yourself when the world around you is trying to pull you in a million directions.
Being brave is speaking your honest truth to someone - from a place of compassion - even though it may be uncomfortable.
Being brave might be attempting a challenging yoga pose in a class, but it might also be listening to your body and opting out of that pose and choosing something gentler because your energy is not in the right place.
Being brave is saying no to things that will drain you - even if sometimes those things 'on paper' look amazing and people around you think you are mad.
Being brave is saying YES to yourself. Investing in you.
Being brave is asking yourself the question... 'where am I not being honest with myself?' and daring to truly face the answers.
Being brave is following and trusting your gut instincts, even though you don't know where they might lead you.
Being brave is letting your heart be open to loving deeply - in fact I think this is one of the most courageous things you could ever do.
Being brave is about being your own nurturer, being gentle and showing yourself compassion.
Being brave is allowing change to occur, even when it feels out of control and terrifying.
Being brave is allowing yourself to receive. To receive support, to receive love, to receive complements, to receive kindness.
I will let you in to a secret...
The time I have to be my bravest, is actually when I teach a yoga class. Even now, 2 years after qualifying and having taught hundreds of hours of classes - I have nerves and butterflies and I have to remind myself to be courageous, to trust and to allow the process to unfold with grace.
I don't think that will ever go away in all honesty. At times I used to wonder if perhaps I wasn't cut out to be a yoga teacher because there are some days when I feel so fearful that I am not sure I can deal with the uncertainty and the trust that I have to surrender to.
But something keeps drawing me back, and each time I teach a practice, my bravery is cultivated. Because bravery has to be practiced in order for you to get stronger in it.
Being brave is trying something even though you know you could 'fail'.
Being brave is knowing you are scared, but trusting in that process anyway.
Being brave is not about forcing, pushing or being aggressive in your actions - it is however about feeling fear, letting it move through your body, and even when you still feel that sensation, taking action - even a small baby step.
Take a leap
I'll meet you there
Between the arms of excitement and fear.
The bravest soul
That you could be
Turns out, in fact, she is already here.