Performing some acts of courage is like running hurdles. You build up to the jump. You mentally prepare yourself and put your leg out to sail over, hoping to clear the landing and keep on running after you’ve crossed it.
For me the build up is made of thoughts, planning, worries, plotting, what-if scenarios. I try to plan for every eventuality, knowing I never really can. But still I plot and plan to try to protect myself, to build up my courage.
After the mental build up, there’s a few ways the jump can go.
- Sail easily over the hurdle. You celebrate your small victory as you keep running on towards the finish, taking the hurdles as they come.
- Stumble. Your foot catches on the hurdle, and you break your stride. You’re past the moment, but doubt has crept in. You keep racing, trying to get your stride back. Eventually you do, but the damage has been done. Your confidence is cracked, if only for a little while.
- Fall. You fall hard, crying as you pick yourself back up. Not sure if you’ll ever be able to get over the next hurdle.
I’m recovering from scenario #2 right now. I finally built up my courage to share a piece of my heart with someone. I fear I took a little too long in doing so. I left the starting line too late.
But I took the jump. My foot caught on the hurtle as I went over, but I didn’t fall. Making the jump didn’t live up to my pre-planned worst case scenarios. It didn’t live up to my pre-planned best case scenarios either.
So I’m left feeling fragile as I rebound from my stumble.
Yet I’m proud. I’m proud I made the jump and didn’t stutter and stop before the hurdle.
I’m sorry I didn’t realize the starting pistol had been fired. I guess I wasn’t ready when it did.
Hindsight is 20/20, and all of that.
In the midst of the disappointment, I am proud of myself. Too often in the past I’ve silenced myself because “it wasn’t the right time.” This time wasn’t any different. But now the air is cleared. I’ve let go of a burden of what-ifs and worry instead of carrying it with me as I avoided the hurdle.
I don’t feel good right now. I feel disappointed and sad.
But I’m also grateful. I’m grateful that everyone involved was thoughtful, kind, and empathetic. Even me.
I’m thankful to recognize this change in how I act. I think it is a big change. It’s a change that’s bringing be closer to being more wholehearted.
So today is dedicated to doing what is right even when it feels really hard. Even when it doesn’t come out the way you would like.
Even though these things are true for me, I can’t say I regret jumping that hurdle.
And once I recover from that stumble, I’ll gain my stride again.