Written for & published by In Her Shoes Foundation (2013)
By Melissa Doman, M.A.
The word courage holds a different meaning for everyone.
I often think of courage as persevering in the face of fear, intimidation, potential failure, or discouragement from others. With that being said, being courageous in different times in my life, while definitely difficult, has led to tremendous outcomes– both personally and professionally. I encourage you to think about the following questions:
- What does courage mean to me and do I feel it’s an important personality trait to have?
- Am I afraid to be courageous? Why?
I know it sounds odd – but honestly – how often do we pose these questions to ourselves? A lot of us hold the potential to be so much more courageous than we allow ourselves to be. So, I want to call attention to this fact, and encourage you to really think about what courage is and how it fits into your life as a strong healthy woman.
One of my absolute favorite quotes of all time that illustrates what I’m talking about is from the American historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. Her well-known phrase, “well-behaved women seldom make history,” is the truest most inspirational combination of words that every woman needs to hear. As I mentioned last month, women have unfortunately historically have been raised to diminish qualities that make them stand out as individuals, or are encouraged to fall in line and blend in. As Ms.Ulrich explained – falling in line is the last thing we need to do.
Listen, it takes guts to allow yourself to stand out and be noticed.
Because you’re putting yourself under the microscope for potential feedback from your peers. To that I say – be courageous unabashedly and without reserve. No matter what age you are, someone will always have an opinion about what you do. Your job is to remember to create your own filter, to take constructive feedback to help build up your talents, and weed out unimportant negativity that contributes nothing to your journey of self-fulfillment.
Don’t be afraid to highlight your talents as a successful woman in any industry with your education, determination, and independence. Be grateful for the natural abilities you have, and if you aren’t satisfied with them, then take it upon yourself to learn something new. Whether it’s acquiring a new skill, excelling within your chosen profession, trying to become the best version of yourself in your current or future romantic relationships, or changing fields – make the commitment to use the skills you have to do so.
Pose the following question to yourself often, as you’d be surprised how your answers may change: what do I want to do and do I have the courage to stand out for being great at it?
Don’t be afraid to reach success through taking the time to make mistakes. Making mistakes are the ultimate bends in the meandering journey towards achievement. Falling down and standing up again is much more gratifying than never trying. I heard a quote from an actor in the movie Moneyball that has always stayed with me. The actor who played the coach of the Boston Red Sox was admiring a fellow peer for his determination and courage. He said to him, “I know you are taking it in the teeth, but the first guy through the wall... he always gets bloody... always.” Remember these words if you ever feel scared in the face of something new or unconventional – and remind yourself that courage will always get you through.