Courage is undoubtedly one of my favorite words and hence, my life's greatest theme. If I ever get a tattoo, it will be the word courage in some funky swirly font on my foot or shoulder blade. It's my favorite character trait and the one thing I strive so hard to live out.
The funny thing is, I have no idea where my obsession with courage stemmed from. It just suddenly became my favorite thing and I can't be sure why. In this post, I intend to put into words just why it is that courage means so much to me.
My favorite kinds of stories are the ones where the protagonist begins as nothing and is forced to work to prove that he is strong. The stories where the insignificant nobody is more a hero than the nobles. Where the hero is the hero because he has courage even when nobody else does.
In the novel I finished writing over the summer, Uritus and the Sword of Fire, I took a stab at defining what courage really is. This is what my hero says about it:
"People so often associate courage with fearlessness, while in reality no one is fearless. Everyone is afraid of something no matter how trifle or insignificant it may be. Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is the ability to look Fear straight in the face and say, 'You don't own me.'"And I think, when it really gets down to it, that is what courage is. Courage is standing up when the rest of the world screams at you to fall down. Courage is rebelling against the societal norm. Courage is fighting for something you're passionate about even if you are the only one in the world who still thinks it's worth fighting for.
I used to love the word fearless. I loved the way it sounded, I loved what it meant, I loved how I thought it could apply to me. But then I actually realized what the word meant: without fear. And since then, I don't use the word fearless anymore. Mostly because it is an unreachable goal.
My greatest fear is jellyfish, followed closely by Duck Duck Goose. Are those fears stupid? Absolutely! But they are still fears, and as long as someone has fears, he or she cannot be fearless. It's impossible. I roll my eyes when people refer to themselves as fearless. "Really?" I think. "You are really afraid of absolutely nothing at all? Not death not pain not rejection not loneliness? Wow. You must be some new breed of superhuman." No. It doesn't matter how much you deny it. It doesn't matter how much you try to convince others (or yourself) that you are fearless.
You are afraid. I can see it in your eyes.
Am I getting you down? If so, I apologize. I'm just telling it the way it is. There is no such thing as fearlessness and if you think there is, then you need a wake up call.
But just because there is no such thing as fearlessness doesn't mean there is no such thing as courage.
It's actually just the opposite. It is because we fear that we can be brave. If fear didn't exist, courage wouldn't either. Because if everyone was fearless, what need would we have for courage? Fear is something we all must face. It is in the confrontation of a friend who has gone astray. It is in the slowly fading heartbeat of someone we cannot bear to lose. It is in the breath before the freefall, and the battle cry before charging into battle.
But fear, just like any antagonist can be conquered with courage.
Everything I want to do in life is going to take courage. I want to move to Thailand, I want to open a home for pregnant teenage girls, I want to be a history maker, I want to change the world. Can I do it on my own? No. Not even if I was the most courageous person to walk the Earth. But with Papa's help, I know I can and nothing anyone says or does to try to prove me wrong will shake me.
My Designer believes in me.
My Designer knows I can do it.
My Designer calls me brave.
And I'd much rather be called Brave than Beautiful.