“You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” Millions and millions of people have heard this quote, mainly because Winnie the Pooh said it, but that doesn’t make it any less true.
I don’t think of myself as particularly brave. I really dislike confrontation and will not push the limits unless it’s something I really, really believe in. If I hear a bump in the night, I wake Paul immediately. And I’m much more likely to adapt and learn to accept an unpleasant situation than I am to jump up and fight the powers that be.
And now that it appears that I’ve exposed myself as a spineless, lily-livered, yellow-bellied specimen, let me explain where this is going. I received an inspirational quote in an email this morning. It read, “You are not meant to bear that which you find unpleasant. You are meant to change it.” The quote listed no origin or author, but it got me thinking. Those are pretty powerful words, and the crazy thing is, I know someone who embodies them.
There are two types of courage. The first one is a necessity. There’s an illness or a catastrophe. Life demands it of you and gives you no other option than to be brave or completely crumble. And there are people that fall apart, but the majority roll up their sleeves and try to keep going. I know many people who possess this type of courage and are brave when life demands it. Don’t get me wrong; that kind of courage is staggeringly impressive. But then there’s the second type. The type where you consciously decide to take a leap even though it’s an unknown, and there are no guarantees.
A friend of mine, we’ll call her Jenny, is the bravest person I know. Hers is that second kind of brave. I think the reason I differentiate between the two is that the first type is not a planned decision. You have been given no options. What I’m talking about is the type of bravery that’s making a change when it is not required.
Jenny sees a fork in the road, and she willingly, eagerly takes the new, adventurous pathway. In cases like this, it would be so easy to stick with the status quo, to jump into the Lazy Boy and kick your feet up in a recliner that sits exactly in the middle of your comfort zone. But that’s not what she does. I have seen her take a chance on love even when the odds were not in her favor. I have seen her walk away from a lucrative career because it made her so much less than happy. She leaps into the unknown.
It would be really easy to jump to the conclusion that she is fickle or flighty based on these circumstances, and that’s what most non-adventurous types would call it, but she’s not. She’s brave. She’s brave because she stuck with that same job for many years because she needed to raise a child, look after an aging parent and pay the bills. When the time came, she was brave again and took a leap in the direction that was replete with possibilities but also unknowns.
The problem with comfort zones is that they are just so comfortable. It’s hard to make a change and follow it through when uncertainty can be so scary. It sounds like Winnie the Pooh’s friend was brave like mine, and perhaps friends everywhere need encouragement just as they do in the Hundred Acre Wood!