Sunday, October 24, 2004

Courage

Sunday night. Perhaps it's because I just passed my 37th birthday or because I'm approaching several milestones on my journey to better health (Ten Percent Challenge, Part II), but I've been thinking a lot about what it means to be healthy and whether or not I'll be able to handle getting to goal and maintaining a healthy weight for the rest of my life.

There's a lot of fear for me around the entire idea of being not fat, not overweight, not beyond the pale of society's acceptance, for reasons that have never really been clear to me. Certainly, there's the fear that, in ending my self-imposed exile from the world, I'll find that it really never was the weight that made people shun me or not want to be friends, but, rather, that it was me, myself, without regard to weight. As I slowly begin the exercise of putting myself out there in the world (with my CASA training), I feel the old fear creeping up - "you'll never be good enough", "they won't like you once they get to know you", "why bother, you know you'll just fail eventually" - and it's got me on edge. There was even a moment last night, as I was reading my CASA policies and procedures manual, when I thought I might decide to resign from the program because it's very exacting in the way things have to be done and I thought to myself, "you'll never be able to get it all right and, if you can't be perfect, why try?" I was even planning to tell my supervisor that at my mid-training interview on Tuesday. It's too hard. I'm too scared. I'm just not good enough. I guess I'll just hide in my house, alone, for the rest of my life.

When I walk, I do a lot of thinking. Truly, it's one of the most relaxing times of the day for me. I don't know why I didn't figure this whole "walking is relaxing" thing out a long time ago! In any case, as I began my walk tonight, I started thinking about an article I was reading in Fast Company magazine today. The issue is several months old and the theme was "courage", which really struck a chord with me and got me started stringing seemingly random thoughts together.

The authors of the articles in the magazine all had different approaches to the idea of courage and had exhibited it in many different ways, but, through all of their stories, I kept being struck by the fact that none of them said they weren't scared before, during, or after their courageous acts, no, it was more that they mastered that fear, harnessed it for their own purposes, and did what needed to be done. So, maybe it's not about being fearless, maybe the fact that I'm scared of everything - literally, everything - isn't a bad thing. Maybe, maybe my fear is a good thing. Maybe the fear is what will save me and bring me into a world I've dreamed of, wished for, and never experienced for myself.

Being afraid isn't a bad thing unless you let that fear stop you from doing what you need to do. It's not the fear that determines whether or not you're brave, it's what you do next that counts. Stay tuned.

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