I stood at the top of the scariest ride at the waterpark in Boise. I waited in a clear tube, closed my eyes, and waited for the countdown to reach one, which was when the ground beneath me would disappear like a trap door and my body would plummet down the slide. My heart raced, and all I could think about was how my little 6-year-old daughter somehow just did this ride.
This is not a particularly new thing for Phoenix, my little girl. She’s fearless. She’s always the one jumping off the top deck into the pond at my dad’s house. She’s the one outfishing the boys in a dress. She loves adventure, just like her mama. But somehow, she fits all that courage inside her little body. It’s inspiring, and I’ve learned a lot about courage from her.
Courage Doesn’t Mean an Absence of Fear
The anticipation you feel when you hear the countdown, when you know that door is going to disappear beneath you, is scary. I asked Phoenix, and she said, “That’s the scariest part!” My daughter felt scared, but she did it anyway, and that’s an important lesson in courage. Courage doesn’t mean you don’t feel scared, it means feeling scared and doing it anyway. Today that meant conquering the scariest ride at the waterpark, but that also applies to many areas of life. I’m scared all the time. I’m scared of failing, of taking risks, of making mistakes, etc. But I always try to push past those fears, and that’s what courage means.
Doing Hard Things Makes You Stronger
I’m a big fan of doing hard things in order to grow. When I’m doing something new and I feel a little uncomfortable, I know I’m going in the right direction. Courage isn’t just about jumping off the top deck or doing the scary ride, it’s about doing something hard and taking a risk without knowing what the outcome will be. For adults, that might mean starting a new business venture, learning something new, or leaving a bad situation. Even if you fail, you learned something new, you made yourself stronger. The next time my daughter does that ride, it won’t scare her as much. The next time, it’ll be even easier than the last. Doing hard things pays off, and even if you failed, you still did it. The outcome isn’t what’s important, it’s taking the risk that matters most.
Everyone’s Comfort Zone is Different
My daughter does have fears, and she does struggle with things that make her scared sometimes. My son, Lincoln, a self-proclaimed scaredy cat, didn’t do the ride like his little sister did, but he thought it was so cool that she did it. His comfort zone is different than hers is. Our threshold for courage isn’t the same as someone else’s. If you’re afraid of heights, going skydiving would be extremely courageous for you! But for an avid bungee jumper, skydiving may be a little easier. Lincoln didn’t do the ride, but he has his own way of conquering fears and being brave, and I think that’s really important to remember. There are plenty of things Phoenix is afraid of that he isn’t. Comparing yourself and your courage to someone else’s bravery won’t paint the whole picture. Our comfort zones are different, and comparisons almost never make us feel good.
When Phoenix told me about the ride, she told me about the scary part and then told me about how fun it was! It’s like the fear didn’t even phase her, or the fear was a part of the fun. That’s what it feels like to conquer something, it feels like you have accomplished something hard. Like when you get to the top of the mountain, or you jump off the high dive. If it wasn’t scary or hard, it wouldn’t feel as good to conquer it.
My kids inspire me all the time, and yesterday I was reminded just how brave my little girl is. She must have felt the same fear I felt when I did the ride, and she’s only 6. We can all learn something from my 6-year-old. Courage means pushing past fear, doing hard things makes you stronger, and you should never compare your bravery to someone else’s.
Tell me about something courageous you’ve done lately!