I Believe in You


“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” A.A. Milne


Lately, I’ve been thinking about courage. Specifically, the things that make us brave. As people, we are varying degrees of strength. Circumstances and feelings influence how strong we feel, but our strength is our own. You need to be strong to handle a certain situation. You need to be strong to speak your mind. You need strength to be WHO you are. Without it, you cannot be true to yourself, because you are too easily swayed by outside opinions etc.

But where, exactly, does courage come from? The courage to follow your heart, to take a chance, to sing in public, to say I love you, to tell someone the truth? It’s not a pill you can take. And while alcohol is often called liquid courage, let’s be honest: it’s more often than not liquid stupid. You wake up Coyote Ugly, wondering what exactly you said to your ex in a horribly slurred voicemail that you only vaguely remember leaving.

My point is this: you don’t find courage, shiny, lying on the sidewalk. It’s not a penny you scoop up. It’s not your misplaced keys. It’s not something you order online that arrives in a box with a smile. Instead, it’s the realization that something/someone is worth it. That’s it. It’s that simple and that complicated. It isn’t even always about believing in yourself (although, that certainly helps). It’s about believing in SOMETHING.

Yesterday, I had a conversation that, in the middle of the night, I realized wasn’t quite complete. What I should’ve added is: I believe in you. You are braver than you think, braver than you even know. I get scared too. There are times where my pulse races, and I’m fairly certain I’m having a heart attack. But believing in an idea, in somebody else? It changes everything. It flips the world on end. And I believe in you.

Lao Tzo once said, “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage” – and I couldn’t agree more. You can argue that everyone has a different motivation, but at the center of everything is love, even its absence. It’s the focal point, the ground zero for every brave thing we ever do. Love of the game. Love of music. Love of words. Love of another person.

You can try to look at life through a smaller, easier lens than love – but what’s the point? We are what, and sometimes, who we love – and even if we love. All kinds of love, not just the romantic kind. Our passions matter. The fact that we have passion matters. It is love that makes us brave. Without love, we are all afraid. We are all scared. We are our walls. And that isn’t really living. It’s hiding. It’s slipping into a shell, like a turtle.

That can be all too easy to do. Stepping out in the spotlight, risking our hearts, exposing ourselves to the world — it’s hard. It’s terrifying. But it is worth it. There is no absence of fear. Courage isn’t about being brave when there is no risk. It’s about being scared, but believing/risking/singing/loving/speaking anyway.

It doesn’t matter if you can feel your pulse radiating in your teeth and toes. It doesn’t matter if you can no longer feel your knees. It doesn’t matter that you’ve stripped off the last of your defenses. When something/someone is worth it — darlings, you do it anyway.

  1. Jessica
    December 20, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    This is going to be a long comment, and for that, I apologize.

    I have suffered from an anxiety disorder for what I honestly believe is my entire life. I remember having full-blown, convulsion-inducing panic attacks as young as age 10. And for my entire life, I had taken them to be unavoidable. I had accepted them. I hadn’t fought them. Instead, I made rules. The 8 hour rule. The exit plan rule. I lived in fear, succumbing to it, and letting it control me. And then one day, I fell in love. And that love broke me. And after a decade of giving in to the fear and anxiety that literally dictated my day to day life, I had finally found something that was more important than being afraid. Loving him was the thing that was worth it to me, and it was the first thing that had ever been worth fighting back. I went a whole year without having a panic attack, and even now, they are far less frequent, and the triggers far easier to understand and predict. But having that experience, I know that you have hit the nail on the head that you say that finding courage isn’t ABOUT finding courage, it’s about finding something that is WORTH being brave for.

    When I think of the things in my life that I’ve done that I consider the most brave, they are the things I did when I was most terrified. They are the times when I laid my soul bare before another person. The times that I dove head first into the unknown. Because I decided that there was something MORE IMPORTANT THAN BEING AFRAID.

    • December 20, 2012 at 5:46 pm

      Very moving comment! Bravo for you for working through the panic. It’s miserable, I know.

    • December 21, 2012 at 10:49 am

      No need to apologize, chica. In fact, I LOVE your comment to bits. I couldn’t agree more, about finding something to be brave for. It makes all the difference in the world. ❤

  2. December 20, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    Another excellent and perfectly timed write-up, Ali.

    • December 21, 2012 at 10:50 am

      Thank you, Jim! I’m glad that you liked it — and that the timing was good! 🙂

  3. December 21, 2012 at 8:48 am

    Wonderful post, Ali. Thank you for the reminder. And I second Jim’s sentiments regarding Jessica’s comment. 🙂

    “Optimism is the foundation of courage.” – Nicholas Murray Butler

    • December 21, 2012 at 10:50 am

      Thank you, Blake!! I like that quote; I’ve never heard it before. 🙂

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