Last December, I decided to choose a word to focus on for 2016, instead of setting a bunch of (generally) unrealistic goals. After much consideration, I chose the world “courage.”
Courage isn’t always about being the bravest one in the room. Sometimes, it’s simply about stepping outside of one’s comfort zone. It’s traveling somewhere new, trying a new food, spending time with a group of people, attending a new church. Courage is just as much about putting yourself out there as it is rushing into burning buildings to save a family.
Looking back, I did, indeed, fulfill my resolution to live courageously. On my previous blog, I wrote:
In 2016, I will find the courage to travel to a foreign country. I’ll try new things – new foods, new experiences, new books, even. I may even branch out and order something different than my favorite burger at Citizen’s. I’ll find the courage to say hello to the attractive guy. I’ll query agents and try to get my manuscript published. I’ll take that class at the gym I like to think I’m “not in shape” enough for.
I traveled. I traveled a lot. I went to London (twice!), Paris, Edinburgh, Venice, Florence, and Rome. I tried so many new things – foods, experiences, and books included – and I even ordered something outside of my usual at Citizen Burger. I (still) struggle with the whole speaking to attractive males thing, but I did go on a number of dates, finding the courage to put myself out there and see what happened. I didn’t query an agent, but I did try that tabata class at the gym.
The tabata class wasn’t the end of my courage-themed fitness plans. I left the local corporate gym everyone and their brother’s best friend goes to in favor of The Gym where I lift heavy (heavy) weights with a coach several times a week. I found I love weightlifting almost as much as I love barre. I also became a certified personal trainer and even competed in a weightlifting competition.
While traveling, I found the courage to go on my own and trust that things would work out. I took planes, trains, buses, boats, and taxis. I navigated London’s tube, Paris’ metro, and Venice’s Vaporetto system. I showed up in Paris without a plan, got hopelessly lost in Montmarte without cell phone service, and picked up enough Italian in a handful of days to navigate a conversation in Rome.
I summoned my courage to share my stories, to be vulnerable and open. I think that may have been the most courageous thing I did all year. More than traveling for foreign countries or competing in weightlifting competitions, I found the ability to be vulnerable with people. I’m still a work in progress, but my relationships are better for it.
I’m incredibly humbled by just how courageous 2016 turned out to be. It was a year of growth, learning, trying new things, and not just stepping out of comfort zones, but absolutely leaping out of them.
I’m once more planning to choose a word for the new year, but I don’t plan to leave “courage” behind. 2017 holds so much potential – and I’ll need courage if I’m going to meet it. However, there is room for another word, another theme. I’ll share that word next week, when we’re closer to the new year.
Here’s to a year of living courageously – and another year to keep courageously moving forward.