How I became brave
At 32, I would consider myself brave; but in my teens and 20’s I was always a cautious person, thinking twice before I would do anything remotely adventurous. I grew up with very conservative parents who always walked the straight and narrow and expected me to do the same. After high school, my sense of caution initially subsided with the introduction of new people, a new environment and a greater sense of freedom.
This newly found courage took some time to embrace as I was so overwhelmed with the sense of space I had that I started getting severe panic attacks. In fact, I nearly dropped out of university because of it. I was just different to everybody else and I felt like I didn’t really fit in. I was lucky enough to receive the backup and support I needed from one of my lecturers. He reassured me that I could deal with it and that he understood what I was dealing with as his niece, a medical student, experienced similar anxiety when she started studying. It took a lot of personal reflection and work to get through that stage of my life as my parents didn’t understand and would tell me to just get over it. To this day, most people I know have no idea that I went through this.
While I was studying, I met my now fiancé Joe. Joe comes from a very different background. He introduced me to a lot of new people and broadened my mind to new experiences. In fact, my first act of bravery was simply announcing to the world that he was my boyfriend. My parents were expecting me to date a very different kind of person. I am so thankful to have Joe and that we are taking on our own adventure.
A few years ago, 2 days before Joe’s birthday, he mentioned to me that he had booked to go skydiving. He hadn’t told me sooner as he didn’t want to give me time to come up with an excuse of why I couldn’t do it! For the next 2 days, I tried to convince myself that I could do this thing; I could jump out of a plane, no problem! Right?! For the sake of Joe’s birthday, I swallowed my fear and went along to the jumping range.
I was determined not to show fear despite being voted ‘most likely to chicken out’. My mantra was that everything would be fine – the parachute would hold up and I could just close my eyes if all else failed! I was the first person to jump and I must say, I have not regretted it for a day. The experience was certainly exhilarating and I tried to make the most of it whilst I was in the air – pretending to be brave. The biggest emotion I felt during this whole ordeal was actually amazement – I could see the curvature of the earth and felt instantly humbled by how small I atually am and that God is always around you, even if you don’t notice it at first.
Swimming with Sharks
A few years later, Joe and I decided to go shark cage diving. I had my mind set on going into the water in the cage but nobody else in our group did so I yanked up the courage to get into the water, SANS cage!
The spot where we went diving, is a conservation area. The sharks were Black Tips and Zambezi’s – no Great Whites or anything as terrifying as that. One of the female Zambezi’s even had a broken jaw and would come to sightings like this for food as she couldn’t hunt. It was amazing to see the sharks swimming around me. They came up to me, nudged me, curious to see what I was doing there. We had to swim with our hands folded under our arms – apparently, sharks can mistake your fingers for fish. The whole thing sounds a lot more stressful than it was as I actually felt quite relaxed in the water. Once we got back to shore and I still had all my fingers and toes, I felt sea sick but proud that I did it! I felt brave after I overcame my fear.
Being Brave in Reality
The point is that a person driven by anxiety can become a person driven by excitement. Make the impossible possible because I’M-POSSIBLE. “Sometimes I believe as many as 6 impossible things before breakfast” – Alice in Wonderland
Find people who will support you and stick to them like glue! I am writing this as encouragement, because you, whoever you are, can be as brave as you want to be! You can do anything – even if you have to pretend at first.
A shout out to our adrenaline junkie friends, Nick and Lucy. These adventures would not be possible without you. Much love to you legends – here’s to many more action packed days of friendship and laughter!
To read more about how I deal with anxiety, follow the link below to a previous post: