Small Acts of Bravery
Months ago, before I started writing here, I told a good friend - let’s call him J - about the people I admire who’re really doing the damn thing. I wistfully (enviously?) wondered if I’d missed my chance.
J turned around and said matter of factly, “but you opted out”. He said it like it was the most obvious thing in the world, and I was reeling.
I met with him and another friend this week. Mid conversation J paused and said “so are we going to talk about your writing? It’s really exciting”. I flushed red and started mumbling and fiddling with my chopsticks.
Every time he suggested a way I could capitalise on something I was doing or some exciting opportunity he could offer (he’s a really good friend), I would think of a reason to make it smaller, or someone else who’d be better for it.
It would be really easy for me to show up here, write in the third person, and not tell the truth about my own struggles. All of the writing advice in the world tells you not to make it about you.
But it’s my damn blog.
My biggest fear is visibility.
Failing big, publicly. Being disliked and criticised and judged. Jealousy. Vulnerability. Isolation. It’s too easy to call it Imposter Syndrome, too easy to hide from the really scary words behind that phrase.
I ignore all of the potentially wonderful things - opportunity, inspiration, connection - and fast forward straight to the bit where it could all go horribly wrong.
I didn’t post the main photo in this post which was taken of me a month ago by my boyfriend whilst snorkelling in Sicily, because I was afraid I’d be seen as a show-off.
I ignored the fact the blue of the sea is calming and beautiful, or that it might encourage the many black people I know who are uncomfortable in the water or learning to swim. I ignored my right to be seen and share a moment of joy. I was too busy hiding and worrying.
What are your greatest fears?
Are you hiding and pretending it’s an artistic choice? Or that you’re constrained by someone else’s expectations of you? Or that you’re protecting yourself from consequences you have no proof will come to pass?
I’d love to tell you to find a way to get rid of those fears, but I’m not sure we need to. Being afraid is a horrible feeling, but it’s not a good enough excuse to not do what you want.
Acknowledging that you’re afraid of something, but doing it regardless, is something you already know how to do.
You do it in your professional life all the time, for other people. When you have to, it’s easier. But whatever techniques or tools you employ when you have to, you can use for when you choose to.
The first piece of advice bloggers will give new bloggers is not to take a break. When you take a break from self-publishing you have time to overthink, to psych yourself out of it, it becomes a hard slog.
Being brave is a habit, and the more you do it, the more normal being slightly uncomfortable seems.
I would very much prefer not to publish this particular blog post. Instead, I’m going to schedule it to go live when I’m out of the house and can’t stop it. It’s a hack, but it means I’ll get it done. *I’ll also schedule a follow up with J to say yes to everything.
Small, incremental acts of bravery might not feel like much in the moment but they add up and compound over time. As do all of the opportunities and chances you don’t take.
Can you think of something small but brave you can do for yourself or your career today? Let me know in the comments.