Brave is something I aspire to be whole-heartedly. I have friends who have travelled half way around the world on their own, started new lives in different countries, pursued their dream careers without compromising, started families of their own – all these things are brave beyond belief through my eyes. To have an idea and commit to it no matter how hard it can get or what is going on around you, that is bravery to me.
The bravest thing I’ve ever done is stood up in front of a large audience and said something out loud. To some people that is the scariest thing going, but because it doesn’t bother me to do such a thing I can’t imagine it on the bravery scale in between rescuing kittens from trees and eloping.
I have a wild imagination for adventure and exciting things, but in real life I am the kind of person who plots brave actions in her head for so long that by the time I’ve decided to do something the opportunity has long passed. I am Myroslava and I overthink too much to be brave.
So how do I become brave? I sometimes think life is like a cold swimming pool on holiday. If you want to get in and enjoy it, the best thing to do is stop dilly-dallying on the edge and just jump straight in. Your landing might not be perfect, people might laugh at your attempt to get into the water and it might be a lot colder than you expected, but goddamnit you’re in there at last.
Asking someone for a date or their hand in marriage, applying for a job way out of your league, chopping your hair off, moving to India…it’s all just jumping into that cold swimming pool in the hope it will be lovely when you’re there.
I have always been a dilly-dallyer round the pool of life. I see other people enjoying being in the water, and put every fibre of my being into wishing myself there instead of actually bloody jumping. I hope and wish and dream and imagine, but rarely turn it into action. I worry that people will look at me and think I can’t do it. I worry they will be waiting to laugh if my jump is not perfect or if I don’t land where I expected. I worry that it won’t be as good as I imagined and I will wish I’d never jumped at all.
I’ve spent all of my life being the worrier on the side of the swimming pool, but at the grand age of 25 I have finally built myself up to make a leap and jump into the water.
When I left university I had all kinds of big plans for my life, but one thing and another (the recession and the fact I fell head over heels for a boy from the Midlands) stopped my dreams in their tracks. To accommodate the parts of my life which I loved, I put other parts on the back burner till I’d come up with a Plan B – my career being one of them.
I started working part time for a car dealership to make some money and bide some time until a lightbulb popped up over my head and my dream job became apparent. I’ve always been academic so there were a few raised eyebrows when I answered the dreaded career question with ‘admin’ as opposed to neuro-surgeon, but plenty of my friends have had to take a compromise in the path to career success.
A year passed, and another. My friends were moving to big cities and foreign countries, and I was still sat behind a desk wearing a regulation scarf. Quiet shifts lead me to start day-dreaming and doodling all over anything I could get my hands on, and when a colleague made a comment that I should start selling my drawings a little seed was planted.
I started small, selling my wares at local events and working from recommendation to recommendation. I cringe when I look back to the way I used to do certain things, and I have nothing but love for all the people who followed my business from it’s shaky inception to what it is today. For now, almost three years later, I have finally made the jump into that big cold swimming pool of life.
When I handed in my notice, I had the usual nerves and panic but never once a feeling that I was doing the wrong thing. When my sensible and level-headed mother agreed that I should give myself a fighting chance despite the fears of failing, I knew I was on the right track. In a few days time, I will hand my regulation scarf and regular pay checks back to the Man and start a new chapter of my life as my own boss.
When I first made this crazy decision to spend my life trying to do what I love, I was met with the standard reactions. Good, bad, concerned, elated, every person’s eyebrows were raised for one reason or another but whatever their sentiments, the word ‘brave’ came up a lot. Now I equate brave with jumping off a cliff or applying for GBBO, but when I think about it saying no to the norm and taking your own path is actually quite a brave thing to do.
Doing a brave thing does not make me a brave person. I am fully aware that I am going to face some very difficult days ahead. There are days when I will doubt my work and my talents and my own sense of self. There will be days where I wish I’d never jumped, I’m sure. But waking up every morning and knowing you get to do what you love, to do something you are good at? To know that you are fully in charge of your success? I don’t think that’s an opportunity I can pass up on.
I worry that I may not succeed, and I worry that everyone will be on the sidelines to watch said failure with popcorn and those little theatre binoculars. I worry that I am being frivolous thinking I can make a life from something I enjoy, when I watch others around me struggle through the working week. I worry that someone is watching me thinking that living your dreams is a possibility and that I am going to let them down. But what does worrying do?! It does nothing but fill my head with nonsense that snowballs into the very thoughts that kept me on the side of the swimming pool for so long.
No more. No more dilly-dallying, or tears of panic. Well, maybe just more minimal amounts of both. It is time to take a deep breath, close my eyes and make the leap. If the water isn’t how I imagined, I would much rather confirm that for myself instead of spending a life in wonder. I’ve never done anything brave in my life and I’ve gone from dipping my toe cautiously into the shallow end to throwing myself off the highest diving board.
Normal me would clam up at the thought of that, but brave me isn’t going to put up with all this waiting around any more. ‘Tis better to say ‘oh well’ than ‘what if’…time to jump my friends.