There are moments that regularly arise in life, when the only two options we have are bravery or familiarity. These moments show up more often than we likely acknowledge, from the adventurous decision to swap our usual dish in our favourite restaurant, to the more impactful one of quitting the job that is slowly strangling our soul.
Many pursuits of bravery we are willingly coerced into; we seek them out and are highly receptive to the list of reasons why *insert your desire here* is important, useful, necessary. We present with a show of reticence, but what we want is to be convinced, we crave certainty, detailed descriptions of results, possibilities, and evidence of how success has already graced others. If we’re extremely fortuitous, we even request and receive the Holy Grail, a guarantee that our new endeavour will give us everything we need. It’s beautiful, and it’s zero risk.
Next to this willing coercion, lives the type of bravery we only pretend to dance with. It’s a shadow cast by the knowledge of what bravery is, never tangible because what we’re really searching for is a reason not to commit; a reason to remain fully held onto the trunk of familiarity, rather than step out on a limb. We’re hoping from the depths of our being that bravery is not in fact a good idea at this time, and in desperation we attach whatever comes along to confirm our fears. Anything that sticks will do; it’s too expensive, there’s no time, it’s not a need, it’s too uncertain, it’s not logical. These are the times when familiarity, no matter how discomforting, how tortuous or nonsensical, is the preferred option. We will rather remain in hell and high water, than experience anything remotely akin to new and untrodden ground.
Whist both the aforementioned choices may be fine for those who are generally content with life; sleeping well, limited anxiety, good relationships – for the rest of society they’re not. When change is absolutely and obviously required in life, oscillating between needing to be convinced and being so afraid of rocking the boat that we don’t move, is an untenable place to live. It’s a beacon for a time when we’re backed so tightly into a corner that proof is not even an option. When familiar patterns or circumstances are finally too much for us to bear, they will outweigh any doubt or excuses we have and they will force us to move. Only then does it become clear that what we’re really afraid of is not being unsuccessful, but the vulnerability required to just do the thing anyway.
Bravery is vulnerability. It’s being able to stand in a space and hold the vision of what we desire, whilst surrendering to the knowledge that the total opposite may also occur. In this moment there is the stark awareness that certain guarantees are an inside job and any success must be homemade. There is no proof because each steppingstone appears only when you have reached its predecessor. True bravery is about surrender and faith – if not belief – that when we move, the universe will also move to catch us, or indeed has been waiting all along.
Familiarity is a beautiful place only because even in discomfort, we know where we are. We know the relationship dynamics we are used to, and what is required of them. We know what our job expects from us, no matter how punishing the steps necessary to deliver.
There is a time to seek our reasons why and how outside of ourselves and there is a time to leap. We have got to be brave. We have got to have enough faith in why we are presented with certain doors. We have got to see through the plethora of perfectly plausible excuses we are able to compile so expertly, and recognise that our fear merely has a variety of robes. We have got to move bravely through our lives, our relationships, our very existence because if we are unhappy it’s a sure sign that our fulfilment relies upon it. Familiarity is beautiful, but it’s not growth, it’s not even change.