March 12, 2013

What is a Brave Choice?

What is a brave choice? Previously, I described a common response to my resignation from Lawrence: how very brave of you. Yet my decision to resign didn't feel courageous; it felt clear--a straight-forward choice along my path. One of my friends recently asked how I came to such peace with the decision. My answer: I accrued enough self-awareness and fully trusted myself. Indeed, that is where the bravery lies.

It took courage to explore layers of myself in therapy. It took courage to have hard conversations with people I love--to let my voice and needs be heard, when I wasn't sure of the outcome. It took courage to feel the range of my emotions and let others see all parts of me. It took courage to sit for weekends in silent meditation--alone with my thoughts and feelings. It took courage to make different life choices from my colleagues--to prioritize people (including myself) rather than to-dos and accomplishments. It took courage to say "no" to some things in order to fully say "yes" to others. It took courage to try new creative outlets--to put forth my creative work in the beginning stages when I was most vulnerable. It took courage to tell people how very much I care about them.

My bravest act was not giving up tenure or quitting my job. Those decisions came easily after years of regular self-reflection. I think my bravest act was committing to that path of self-reflection (even when the truth was difficult to hear or say). And that still takes courage--every single day. Some days I don't want to reflect; I want to distract. Yet too many days of distraction leads to disconnection not just from myself, but from all of life. So I gather my courage and plant myself back in the moment; back in life--life filled with uncertainty, love, sadness, kindness, disappointment, contentment, anxiety, and joy. And I can't imagine it any other way.

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