Cour•age n. 1. The mental strength to venture, persevere and withstand danger, fear or difficulty 2. The quality of being brave; valor
I’m going to be bold and declare we’ve all got a fair amount of courage within us. But, like the lion in the Wizard of Oz, we may not recognize our own fearless nature because often in the midst of being courageous, we feel anything but brave.
That’s because courage doesn’t materialize in the form of a medal we can wear around our necks. That would be too easy. And it isn’t always as obvious as rescuing a kitten from a burning building – although that does qualify. It can take any number of shapes and is often a necessary component of the every day. Most of us live a life of courage without even realizing it.
According to my online thesaurus, synonyms for courage include determination, endurance, fearlessness, fortitude, boldness, tenacity and guts. We’ve all got guts – I’m speaking in the figurative sense.
Courage in the everyday is the new mom who drops her infant son off for the first time at day care and then cries all the way to work and tries to dab her eyes dry so no one will know how much mental fortitude that first dropoff required.
Courage is the elderly gentleman who understands that after 16 years of love and companionship, his loyal golden retriever is suffering from numerous ailments and it is time to say goodbye.
Courage not only takes guts, it involves listening to them. When you see a bully and speak out even though you may be hesitant to get involved in someone else’s business, you are acting with a fearlessness that is inspired. When you step in to give praise to a young dad who is patiently struggling with an inconsolable baby at the grocery store, you are similarly bold and courage-filled.
Courage is often invisible. Sometimes it is getting out of bed in the morning and putting one foot in front of the other to make it through the day. Resolute courage is doing the same thing the next day, and the day after that.
The mom who chooses her family over career to take a leap of faith and pursue a job that’s closer to home and closer to her heart. Courageous.
The dad who coaches the youth sports team season after season, mostly because he loves the kids, partly because no other parent will volunteer. Courageous.
Trying something new, even though it will be hard and you might fail. Asking for help. Courageous.
Being the first to say, “I’m sorry.” Courageous.
Being the first to say, “I love you.” Asking someone for a first – or second – date. Reaching out to hold someone’s hand. Reaching out to further build a relationship. Courageous.
Courage is admitting you messed up, made a mistake or misjudged a person or situation. It is a willingness to listen to opinions that don’t line up with your own preconceived notions – political or otherwise.
It takes courage to throw away your imaginary mask and let others see the real you. Simple, but probably one of the toughest scenarios yet because we all have things we think we should hide.
Daring to dream, hope and pursue – perhaps the best kinds of courage of all.
Congratulations to you, today, on your courage. It was there. It is there. And it will be there tomorrow. For you, for me, for all of us. And for that kind of tenacious bravery we all deserve a medal.
Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.