Being brave doesn’t mean you’re not afraid

So here you are and today you do not feel great. 

You woke up feeling slightly terrified. Panic rises and falls in your chest. You switch on the news and switch it off again. It all sounds so bleak and you don’t think your fragile state can handle it right now. 

Thing is, you don’t know why you are feeling this way. You were bright and breezy yesterday, tilting your face up into the sunshine and basking in the warm glow of early spring. You were perfectly balanced. 

But today is different. One minute you are laughing incredulously at the Tiger King, the next there’s tears streaming down your face after watching a video of people singing in the streets for carers.

Your inner child has hijacked the mothership and you’ve no idea where she is going to take you.

Rest assured you are not alone. It’s not just you who wakes up worrying about what the day will bring, the week, the month, the rest of the year. 

It’s not just you who wonders whether things will change or fears things will never be the same again. 

It’s not just you who frets for your own health and that of those you love. 

It’s not just you that thinks, shit, I don’t know if I am doing this right. I don’t know if I am doing enough.

You may be carrying a degree of guilt or shame about how you feel, what with your privilege. You think ‘why I am worrying?’ or ‘it could be worse’. 

It’s not just you who oscillates from light to dark because of… what, exactly?

It’s definitely not just you. Individually we are unique but collectively we are united by emotions. 

Feelings don’t care about your situation. Your privilege. Your gratitude. Emotions come and go as they please.

Today I am not entirely relaxed. I feel anxious, a bit frightened. That is fine. 

Most of me knows there are days like this. Perhaps it’s hormone shifts or tiredness. I know not to dwell and try not to smash it down inside.  

Fear, specifically, arises from danger and we are constantly told we are in perilous times. But fear, when it is expressed and seen and heard, diminishes in strength. It’s then we feel less anxious. We feel soothed. 

So, today, I urge you to share your crazy. Speak up and out. If you feel malevolence is chasing you down, tell someone. You may find they are worried too. Or are wondering whether they are doing it right. We will agree we’re all a bit fearful. 

But we are also kind, resilient, considerate, funny and bloody-minded. Really frigging bloody-minded. Cry, laugh, swear. Stamp your feet if that’s what petulant child in you recognises and needs right now.

We’ll agree, with some relief, that it can all be a bit much but that doesn’t mean we aren’t brave. We can take back control of the wheelhouse and navigate to calmer waters. Tomorrow is a new day. We can keep going. We can continue to do our best. After all, isn’t that all we can do?

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I'm a writer, journalist and communications officer based in the South West of England. I write about wellbeing, the outdoors and life in a rural playground.

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