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But What Will They Think?

I interviewed my good friend, Michelle Ward, about Courage last week for Reclamation.

Michelle is the poster child for courage in action — chasing a life of musical theater in NYC, letting go of that dream to become a creative career coach, surviving boob cancer (twice), making tough choices about how to grow her adorable family, and fighting loudly + publicly to save the Affordable Care Act.

Some acts of bravery she chose, others were doled out by a world beyond her control.

And Michelle faced them all with her special blend of action-taking, humor and positive attitude.

So there I was, totally jazzed by the inspiration she’s sharing and in awe of her strength.

And then I decide to tell my own story of slightly ridiculous story of courage…

How just that morning, after making it through my second day of Max’s kindergarten drop-off, I loaded Juliet into the minivan and drove to town for a swim before work.

Both children were fed! Dressed! Scootered to school and back! Arrived at the gym’s childcare with water and cheesesticks! Ready to swim a mile!

I was feeling victorious.

And then, I unpack my gym bag and realize I forgot my freakin’ swimsuit.

I actually groaned out loud — there was no time to rescue it and I couldn’t pull off anything else at the gym in my flip flops.

I resigned myself to slinking back home, my morning of victory erased.

But then I looked at my yoga tights and old ratty sports bra and thought — well, I guess I could just swim in this.

Awkward. Strange. Slightly embarrassing.

And yet, it would get the job done.

I didn’t let the refrain of “but what will people think?” hold me back. I hiked up my tights, stripped off my tee-shirt, and went about my routine — soaking in the hot tub, claiming my lane, swimming my mile — oddball swim outfit and all.

Though it felt a silly story to be telling after a conversation full of giant acts of courage, I’m not sure I would have been “brave” enough to pull it off a few years ago…

I think my self-consciousness and aversion to looking stupid would have stopped me from jumping in the pool. And more than likely, I wouldn’t have shared the story with Michelle or Elevate because it didn’t seem like a big enough deal to count as a courageous act.

But I’ve been actively pushing my own boundaries around my “but what will people think?” fear and I can see the results in both small and large ways.

Because here’s the thing, honey.

Courage begets courage.

Every small act of bravery affirms our capability to take on the bigger fears we will face.

Every risk we take and weather builds our confidence to keep pushing our own edge, speaking our truth, standing in integrity.

Michelle and I can both agree upon that.

Here’s hoping you get a chance to practice being courageous this week!

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