My word of 2018 is courage. Each January, I choose a word that speaks to my intentions for the coming year. I started doing this when a friend recommended the book One Word That Will Change Your Life by Jon Gordon, Dan Britton, and Jimmy Page. My attention goes to reflecting on my life and almost letting the word choose me based on something that I need at that time to grow as a human being. This year, I need courage.
I have had courage in a lot of ways throughout my life, as we all have. It takes courage to get on a stage and perform in musicals, singing solos in front of hundreds of people watching in the audience. I have done that. That’s a different kind of courage because that courage was only about going out onto the stage. Once I was there I got to be someone else. I got to play a role. That’s easy. I have gotten caught up in playing roles for a long time. As a public school teacher I have allowed myself to be hidden in areas of my life because of a fear that I wasn’t playing the role if I allowed certain pieces of me to be seen. I’ve played the role of peacemaker, bridging the gap between differing opinions, regardless of my own. I’ve played the role of confidant, always holding information because all kinds of people trust me with it, even though I don’t always want to be their secret keeper. I played the role of becoming someone I really wasn’t, for someone else. Little by little that has changed, and I’ve accepted that I, or my ideas about things, might not always be accepted or expected. That was always part of the fear that held me back.
This year, my courage is about not hiding. It’s about showing up in the world and putting myself out there – authentically and 100% real me, unapologetically. That courage isn’t always easy – at least not for me. It has taken a lot of courage to even get this piece of writing started. You see, me and self-doubt, we’ve been dating for a while now and our relationship is toxic, yet I keep coming back. Courage and I have an on again, off again relationship. We’re the ones who hang out every now and then, filling each other up with joy and confidence, like a conversation with a great friend. Self-doubt inevitably finds out about us and gets jealous, tries to weasel her way back in. Courage doesn’t give up, though, even though she knows her competition. This year, courage is ready to fight the good fight to be the one that I see more often.
I feel like I’ve been on a path toward this for a while. I’m introspective and typically able to take a step back and witness what might be going on inside. When I found myself as a student in the Pranakriya 200-hour YTT, I was able to sharpen that tool. The concept of facing our light and our shadow was profound. I often come back to the question posed there that felt like it was asked just for me, “what are you hiding?” As it was repeated over and over again one weekend, tears streamed down my face because I knew in that moment that what I have been hiding is me. It struck me because from the outside, it seems that I’m an open book. I’m a talker and love conversation with others. What I’m feeling is all over my face. My heart has a permanent home right there on my sleeve. This experience asked me to take a look at a different way I was hiding. I had to face the fact that it wasn’t simply things outside of me that were giving me limitations. It was me and my relationship with self-doubt. That lesson was a turning point in my life and a place where I started to have stronger feelings for courage than I have for self-doubt. Courage keeps knocking on the door, and this year I’m ready to answer.