I do not see myself as a risk taker and actually quite the opposite. I see all the reasons for bad things to happen or things to take a turn for the worse. However, I don’t want my realistic tendencies to prohibit me from living life to its fullest. I have managed to muster up courage when the time comes for it.
I see courage as a muscle that has been exercised in my life since childhood. It is past experiences when I was out of my comfort zone that made it so I was able to exhibit courage when necessary.
As I was reflecting on how I build independence and courage in my our children, I began asking my mom about why she let us have as much freedom as we did in our teenage years. My mom was quick to say that there was no stopping us kids and she had to trust God.
These next few stories are times that I felt I was given freedom + responsibility which required me to take hold of courage to live life to its fullest.
The minute I passed my driver’s license test I was ready to hit the road with my girlfriends. Our first destination would be Mall of America just outside Minneapolis, Minnesota which was about 2.5 hours from my childhood home. My family went to Mall of America multiple times a year so it should be no problem to drive up for the day and shop our hearts out.
This shopping trip went well and was uneventful. I was able to navigate to the mall without a GPS system or access to a cell phone. Simple trips like this gave me a taste for exploring on my own and helped me build courage to venture out even further.
My parents knew that giving me space to try new things, drive a little further, and rely on my own problem solving skills would strengthen my courage and resolve.
My older brother, Paul, and I were headed to Keystone, Colorado to celebrate his 18th birthday on the slopes. I was 16 at the time so I could help with the driving. It was just the two of us, no cellphones, a paper Rand McNally Map, and enough snacks to last us 5 days.
A family friend’s son lived in Keystone at the time and was a ski instructor. Our plan was to crash at his place and ski for 3 days and then head home. The drive out was fine, the slopes were perfect, it was truly an awesome trip. I have fond memories of this time spent with my brother.
The one hitch in the trip was that on the second day, Paul and I decided to try and learn how to snowboard. We just rented our snowboarding equipment and jumped on the gondola without a single lesson.
This was the most miserable day I have ever had on the mountain. I had no natural ability to snowboard and was trying to keep up with my more athletic brother. I lost Paul in a matter of minutes and continued to trip and fall down the green trail. It must have taken me a least an hour to get down to the base on my the first run. There were definitely tears but I wasn’t about to give up, so up the gondola I went again.
When I was lacking in courage to try something new, my older brother would spur me on. I know that there are times in my life that I need the courage of others to push me through own inhibitions. Snowboarding was an exciting new challenge that I wouldn’t have tried without a little prompting.
I am not really sure how I ended up in a private pilot ground school program when I was a junior in high school. My parents researched it and signed me up. A couple of evenings a week I would go to class near the airport to learn about flying an airplane. After I completed the in-class curriculum, I was given the opportunity to learn how to fly with an instructor.
As a kid, I never dreamed of flying and hadn’t traveled by plane much at all. However, after lots of hours in a small Cessna I was drawn to flying. There was a freedom and peace in that Cessna high above the rest of the world. I was able to see myself from a different view.
When I went off to college, I put my flying days behind me. I turned my academic focus to math, but was mostly distracted by the college life. My parents believed that I could have any career I set my mind to and were willing to put money into developing my skills.
I had more confidence because my parents encouraged me to spread my wings. This enabled me to explore careers and colleges that were not initially on my list. I see myself as a homebody and thought I would go to college close to home. I ended up in Texas about 1000 miles from home without knowing another person going to LeTourneau University.
During my sophomore year in college, a friend and I decided we needed a long weekend break. It was January, cabin fever had settled in and we were just ready to get out of Texas. She had her parents’ van and we had a little bit of money so we decided to go to Pensacola, Florida.
We didn’t book any hotels but planned to sleep in the van. We must have just used a road map since neither of us had a cellphone. I did mention to my roommate that Florida was our destination just in case we didn’t show back up in a few days.
With the open road before us, money for food + gas, we headed for the beach. The trip was great! I still remember the best Mahi- Mahi I have ever had was from a little place just off the beach. The hardest part was trying to freshen up in the mornings. This was the first and only trip I have slept in a vehicle.
I am glad that fear hasn’t kept me from embracing life. Some of my fondest memories come out of moments that I could have walked away from because of fear of the unknown. With a little bit of street smarts, I felt like I was up for the next adventure.
Courage comes in different forms in my life. Sometimes it is because of preparation, instruction and past experiences that I have courage to take on the next step. Knowing that I have the skills keeps me focused and positive.
At times, I have to lean on the courage of those around me. I need others to help me look outside of my comfortable life and spur me on to try new things.
How I identify myself can limit my courage. I look to those in my inner circle to help remind me of who I am and challenge me to embrace the person God created me to be. I am grateful for the people in my life that make me a better person.
When have you needed courage to push past your self imposed limitations?
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