Finding Your Courage


With thanks to The Red Fairy Project for the image.

I can’t find the origin of that statement — I’ve used it for over twenty years — and fear it may be lost. I’ll use it anyway.

I sat down to write a post on last Saturday’s Women’s March, 2018.  Pictures and all.  Then, I read the New York Times’ story on the Women’s March, 2018.  Here’s the excerpt that got me:

Ashley Bennett, a Democrat from Egg Harbor Township, N.J., unseated a longtime local Republican politician in her first campaign for office last November. She ran for Atlantic County freeholder against John L. Carman after he posted a meme on Facebook during last year’s march asking, “Will the women’s protest be over in time for them to cook dinner?”

Ms. Bennett told the crowd at Saturday’s march in New York that she was scared to run at first, and that she asked herself, “Am I the right person? Can I really do this? But then I realized that if you wait until you feel ready, you may never take action.

“If you wait until you feel ready, you may never take action.” Ashley Bennett

Another way to ask this is, “What might I do if I knew I wouldn’t fail?”

And so, in its way, this became a post about finding our courage. We all have it, you know. We all have enough. It’s there, waiting to serve us; sometimes it’s just a bit hard to find.

[learn_more caption=”For a quick look at ‘risk’ from another POV, open this window.”] There’s quite a bit of research in social psychology about how people perceive risk, how what looks “risky” to one may not look so to another. Risk is subjective.

I first learned this in 1982 in grad school (my sociology grad school, as opposed to my poli sci grad school, ten years later).  Each of the students in the social psych seminar had to choose one area of the field and present on it. My friend Debbie chose “the perception of risk” and she taught us a lot.

She used astronauts for her example: sitting in a space capsule about to be launched, most of us would feel that was too risky to try.  But astronauts would not look at it the same way (so went her presentation). They have experience, training, practice, etc. And having those, minimizes our perception of the risk.

This was four years before the Challenger exploded upon take off. (January 28, 1986. The 32nd anniversary of that is coming up on Sunday!)

In hindsight, while the 0-rings were the physical cause, we now know that the more fundamental problem was that, in favor of public relations, risk was minimized. A tragic lesson in the importance of assessing risk.

How do you fare on assessing “risk?”[/learn_more]

How about you?  What are you waiting to do until you feel ready?


Next week: The Curse of the Handwritten Note

HEADS UP: Sunday, February 11, I’ll be the featured author on the facebook group We Love Memoirs’ Sunday Spotlight. It’s a chance for readers to “ask me anything” (as they like to say).  I may just tell the story of how I nearly married Elton John (if anyone should ask). And will certainly talk a bit about writing my memoir and the experiences I pulled from.  I hope you’ll stop in and say hello.  It’s a closed group, so you’ll need to “join” first — easy, peasy.  Need more info?  Check out their ad in the sidebar to your right and down a bit.

13 Responses

  1. Merril Smith
    | Reply

    Good morning, Janet. Interesting topic and something I will have to ponder.
    I suppose one I’ve been thinking about is submitting more poetry and putting together a book.
    Your topic for next week struck me because I just wrote a haibun about handwriting. 🙂
    Merril Smith recently posted…Writing on a Page: HaibunMy Profile

  2. Laurie Buchanan
    | Reply

    Janet — Elton John? Great way to dangle a carrot!
    Laurie Buchanan recently posted…Shoe TreeMy Profile

  3. Joan Z. Rough
    | Reply

    Courage is what it takes to do the things that frighten you the most. Including the acceptance you need when you have to say no.

    For me it’s accepting that as I age I can’t do the things I used to do or would still like to do.
    Joan Z. Rough recently posted…Mindlessness versus MindfulnessMy Profile

  4. Carol Bodensteiner
    | Reply

    I’ve been working up courage to be more vocal politically.

    This past year, I finally signed up to be a volunteer reading to four year olds. I’ve wanted to do this for years but wasn’t sure I could commit the time. I finally figured no one could be certain they could be there every week. So I’m doing it and loving it.
    Carol Bodensteiner recently posted…Would you speak up? Are you that strong?My Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Thanks, Carol. One of the effects of the tRump presidency for me has been the enormous increase in citizens, like yourself, who are now willing to get involved, speak out, protest. As you said so well in your last blog post, “When we fail to speak out, we become complicit.”

      And, reading to those little ones is a great contribution. I started this four years ago, when I was still going to Chincoteague for weeks at a time. You are so right, no one can be certain they’ll be anywhere every week. Glad you’re enjoying it.

      Thanks for stopping by.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Finding Your CourageMy Profile

  5. Kate Pill
    | Reply

    Really enjoyed this post – as always 🙂 Have just downloaded books 1 and 2 of the Gutsy anthology series.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Hi Kate. I’m so pleased you joined our little confab. The more the merrier, some smart person once said. Sonia has put together a great collection of stories, all were at one time posts to her Gutsy Living blog. She’s off leading safaris someplace in Africa now. I don’t think she’s publishing any longer.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Finding Your CourageMy Profile

  6. Heidi Love
    | Reply

    I love this post. I write a blog on women of courage. I had my own chance to transcend fear when sailing from Panama to French Polynesia and fighting PTSD. I had some amazing women mentors that helped me through it and I wanted to give back. Now when I’m afraid I think well at least I’m standing on solid ground—haha. Marching with you and thanks for the post.

    • Janet
      | Reply

      Thanks much for joining us today, Heidi. Welcome. I’ve been over to your blog and find the stories there filled with wisdom. I use CommentLuv here, a widget that lets us link to Commenters blogs. Be sure to click it next time so more can find you.
      Janet recently posted…Mud SeasonMy Profile

  7. Amy M. Reade
    | Reply

    Seriously, I can’t believe a politician would put such an offensive meme on his FB page.

    Maybe I can believe it.

    I live just a short distance from Egg Harbor Township and I hadn’t heard this story. I’m glad you shared it.

    Great post! Kudos to you and to Ashley for being women of courage!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a blog you'd like to share? I use CommentLuv Click here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.