Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.

Quote by  Anais Nin

I was talking with a friend recently and she told me she admires my courage and confidence. This conversation left me quite surprised and made me think about the long way I have gone to get where I am right now.

I have not always been courageous, let alone self-confident.

For some reason I grew up believing that I had to please the people around me. 

During my studies my dedication and high grades were my way to impress my parents and teachers. I was a very diligent student, striving for high performance in every possible subject, even though I was not truly interested in some of them.

When I graduated university and started applying for my very first jobs I thought I could get any job I wanted if I could act in a way that was expected by my future employer. Regardless of whether the company culture or the job was in line with my passion and personal interests.

I even remember that I was choosing what to wear to an interview based on what I thought would give people the impression I would fit in. 

My life was not about me. It was about the others. 

What would they say about me?

What would they expect from me?

I felt the need to fit in. To play a role.

And what do you think happened?

I got tired of it. I didn’t feel good about myself for it. I was living a life that was not mine.

I didn’t even have the strength to change anything until my body got so exhausted that it “stopped functioning”. I was saying “yes”when I was feeling like a “no”. I was playing along when I was feeling like objecting.

I was trying to do everything, be everywhere and please everyone.

How do you gain courage? 

Probably at this point you are wondering how all of this has anything to do with courage.

For some reason I didn’t feel I was good enough the way I was to just be myself and see if things will work out or not.

I guess it could have been fear of failure, fear of being rejected or fear of being proven not good enough or not worthy of love.

Well, if you read this I hope you will at least remember one thing: courage and confidence are skills you can develop.

BUT HOW?

By acting in a way that is in line with who you are and how you feel. Living in a way that is in line with your values and principles. 

The above answer might look quick and simple but knowing who you are and what is important to you and staying true to yourself under all kinds of challenging circumstances is a lifelong journey.

Where can you start?

For me personally a good starting point was to learn from people who have overcome their fears and vulnerability. And by doing so have started living extraordinary lives.

Two very inspiring ladies have contributed a lot to my personal development: Brene Brown and Mel Robbins.

Brene Brown

Brene Brown has spent decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. Her precious book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are  has been a true eye opener for me to start my journey of exploring my imperfection and vulnerability. For those of you who would prefer Youtube, I would recommend her TEX talk The power of vulnerability.

The greatest lesson this book has taught me was to embrace the beauty of all human emotions (good and bad, pleasant and painful). To appreciate, accept and even enjoy the whole spectrum of emotions: from anger, loneliness, shame, to compassion, empathy, courage, self-love.

To find the beauty and love for my own vulnerability first in order to be able to accept, understand and love the imperfections of the people around me.

Mel Robbins

Mel Robbins is an American television host, author, and motivational speaker. I have already shared Mel’s famous TEDx talk, How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over in my second article SOMETIMES THE FEAR WON’T GO AWAY, SO YOU’LL HAVE TO DO IT AFRAID and I am sure I  will keep on sharing it with you in the future.

Watching her TEDx talk  How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over (22 min.) anr/or her Success talk How to Beat Self-Doubt in 5 Seconds (46 min.) would definitely leave you inspired and ready to take action.

Both Mel and Brene have experienced feeling insecure and vulnerable first hand and reading about how they have overcome their fears and challenges will definitely touch your heart and mind in a way that will leave you wanting more. 

More for yourself and more for humanity in general.

How do you ensure long term success?

By practicing courage and self-confidence as often as you can until it becomes who you are.

You would now see me asking questions during meetings, saying no, pushing back and challenging someone’s view if I don’t completely agree with it. I changed my job when my daughter was only 6 months old having no idea whether this decision would be good or bad in the long run. 

I dare to make bold decisions and take actions which I certainly wouldn’t have taken before.

To you it might look very natural and effortless which in some cases would be true. But believe me in most cases there would have been an internal fight of whether and how I should act/react in a certain situation. And whether I should do what I feel I need to do vs what others expect me to do. 

I stand up for my rights and I act in the interest of my dreams and passion because each time I do it, it makes me feel closer to my inner self. Because if it is not me doing it for myself, then who would do it for me?

The more often I do it the more normal it feels. 

It’s always scary and uncomfortable and I never really feel like it because giving up or quitting always seems a more attractive option. However, by openly expressing what bothers me or what I believe in helps me build the courage, confidence and experience to do it again. And again.

I feel good about myself when I stay true to myself. Regardless of the fear, discomfort, vulnerability that is required to do so.

What’s in it for you?

I am not claiming the above is the right way to gain confidence and courage. Nor that it’s the only way. 

I am just sharing with you something that seems to have worked out for me which may or may not be valuable to you.

I personally believe courage and confidence tend to grow with maturity and experience.

At a certain point in your life you feel mature enough to not really care about the circumstances and people which are not in line with what is important to you. I know it doesn’t necessarily need to be the case, so regardless of your age, maturity and experience, it’s never too late to change your life for the better.

If you are in a phase where you would like to bring some change in the way your life is progressing, feel free to get some inspiration from Brene Brown and Mel Robbins. I can promise you they are worth your time.

If someone around you could use some inspiration and motivation to change their life for the better, please feel free to share my story with them.

Especially now in the worldwide pandemic circumstances where our freedom and lives are in a way “shrinking” because of our limited opportunities to travel and meet in person, let’s challenge our internal barriers and limitations so our lives can keep on expanding. Fueled by our courage to navigate our lives in the direction we see fit.

Article Photo by Sammie Vasquez on Unsplash

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