Recently, I did something which caused me some anxiety. It would go so far as to say it scared me, at least a little. I have done something else recently, an second act, which caused me no more anxiety than the first, in fact a great deal less on balance. I enjoyed the latter experience, the former brought me no joy.
For the first thing, which caused anxiety, no-one gave me any credit. For the second, which was fun, people said well done.
That’s one of the odd aspects of fear. It can often be very personal.
The second thing was an abseil, which I carried out for charity. According to an email I received afterwards, thanking me and my fellow abseilers for our time and efforts, not many people do this kind of thing. Perhaps this is what makes an exhilarating stunt like this something to be admired. Not many people do it.
The first thing was leaving the house and going to the shop. Facing the outside world. Lots of people do this, day after day. So why would anyone think to congratulate someone for something so mundane? I will tell you why – it is all down to that which makes a person afraid.
Many people called me ‘brave’ for lowering myself from Newport Transporter Bridge on a piece of rope. Whilst it was certainly far from unpleasant to be congratulated, I maintain that it required precious little bravery on my part. In order to have been brave, I would have needed to have been scared in the first place, and to have overcome that fear. As it was, I was a little apprehensive, but my overarching feeling was that of excitement and – eventually – of accomplishment. I wanted to do it again.
Some days, I don’t want to leave the house. It causes me anxiety to do so. I do it because I have to but, given the choice, there are times when I would prefer to avoid interaction with anyone but my nearest and dearest altogether. But we don’t get that option in this life. We have to get on with stuff. So we do. I do.
I think the times when I get up, get dressed, do the daily stuff despite the knots in my stomach and the heaviness in my soul, that is when I am truly brave. And I am not the only one. But it seems no-one would think to say ‘well done’ to someone for doing this. Perhaps we should.
(In choosing to publish this blog post, I am acting in the face of one of my biggest fears, that of judgement and rejection. I am doing it however because I hope it may help others. If I succeed in bringing some encouragement, then this particular act of bravery – whilst not as much fun as an abseil – will certainly have been worth it.)