Courage is NOT being fearless. It is NOT doing dangerous stunts on a dare without thought of consequences.
It’s acting in accordance with your beliefs despite criticism or threats of exclusion. Courage IS facing and dealing with something you recognize as dangerous, difficult, or painful (physically or emotionally).
Courage comes in many shapes and sizes. We applaud the courage of first responders who go into burning buildings to save lives, or military who fight for peace and freedom, or medical people who go into war zones to serve. We often don’t recognize courageous acts that are done day to day. For example:
- confronting a bully knowing that you may be insulted or hurt
- refusing to drink alcohol or attend pill parties, understanding you may be excluded from your group of friends (saying yes is easy, saying no takes courage)
- dealing with your illness or the illness of someone in your family even though it feels like it might crush you
- asking someone you like on a date, knowing you can be hurt or embarrassed
- taking a stand against prejudice or social injustice, or volunteering to help causes for people you don’t know or have a connection with
- reporting abuse or telling an adult your friend is talking about suicide, understanding they may feel betrayed and your relationship will change
- trying something new even though you are afraid of failure
Courage isn’t about pretending that bad things don’t happen or that there aren’t any risks. It’s understanding the risks of failure and rejection and not letting it stop us, moving forward to create more truthful and meaningful lives.
Courage is asking for help when it’s obvious we can’t do it on our own. It’s about training ourselves to be brave by continually doing small courageous acts.
Courage can be loud; for instance Martin Luther King leading marches for civil rights. Courage is often quiet: like Mother Teresa living amongst the poorest people, helping them to thrive, learn, and grow. It always begins with a single act of courage, followed by another, then another.