from my archives: the courage inside us

[This summer, I will be randomly publishing posts from my archives, in order to be more productive in other areas of my creative life. I hope you enjoy this post, which was originally posted May 24, 2012.]

This May has been a really amazing, huge month for me so far.

Things I had been contemplating for a long time, paths I had been considering: May became my month to go ahead and start, instead of just wondering what could be.

This took courage. A lot of courage. Exhilarating, wabi sabi courage, for sure, but courage nonetheless.

put myself on stage again. I submitted my photos to a (print) magazine for the first time. I submitted a column and photo to an (online) magazine for the first time (and I just submitted another proposal while I was in the middle of writing this!). I stopped waiting and decided it was time to say yes to the life I want to lead. I declared myself ready.

And May isn't even over yet. I know I'll be finding more things requiring my courage, to keep practicing. (And continue this practice into June and beyond.)

And I know that it may look easy from the outside, just as it looks easy to me when my friends do amazing things. It's easy to fall into the trap of not feeling strong or brave enough.

But the courage that is inside of me is not the same as the courage that is inside of you. My fears are not the same as your fears. We need different things.

Don't betray yourself thinking that the path that you are on is not brave because it doesn't compare to someone else's path.

In February the most brave thing I could do was let go of what wasn't serving me. In April the most brave thing I did was to keep writing.

Courage looks different at different moments. Be in the moment you are in, and do not to compare it to a different moment in your life, or to any moment in someone else's life. Courage is unique and requires mindfulness to the present moment, to the present situation.

I can't beat myself up for not taking action last month or last year. There would be no point, because I cannot go back and change the past, and to continue beating myself up only blocks the courage that I have in this moment from expressing itself.

Find the courage that is inside of yourself right this moment.

That may mean laughing instead of crying. It may mean letting yourself break down because the burden you've been carrying has become too much. It may mean taking the step you've been putting off for years.

I don't know what your courage looks like.

But I know it doesn't look like anyone else's. It doesn't look like mine. It is your own, unique and beautiful.

We need more courage in the world. And your courage is so very beautiful. Do not hide behind fear. We are all afraid. We are all afraid. Yes, everyone. Fear haunts us all. Courage shines from within, not to say "I am not afraid" but to say, "I am afraid and I am still here."