Courage is a concept that I have always felt to be beyond my grasp. I have clutched at it like a child clutching at a balloon that just keep floating further and further away. For almost half a year, however, since I have begun writing again, I have found that courage is not quite as far away as I had always imagined. As Anne Frank said, “I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”
A few years ago, Psychology Today put out an article titled The Six Attributes of Courage. In the article, the author identifies examples of courage in action:
- Feeling fear yet choosing to act
- Following your heart
- Persevering in the face of adversity
- Standing up for what is right
- Expanding your horizons; letting go of what is familiar
- Facing suffering with dignity or faith
As much as we may feel a lack of courage at times, we have all exemplified at least one of these attributes at some point in our lives. As I look at this list, I am struck by how each attribute in this list is an attribute of writing. The act of writing in itself is essentially courageous. Who among us have not felt fear as we sit down to write – fear that we cannot express what is in our hearts, fear that no one will like what we have to say or worse, understand what we have to say. To write is to follow our hearts, for there is something within us that yearns to break free, something that cannot be released in any other way. Writing is full of adversity – it is hard, hard work, and we must give up much (free time, sleep, etc.) to accomplish our goals. To write is to display our depiction of morality, whether we intend to or not, and our writing becomes a form of support for what we believe and feel to be right. Writing is a way we go beyond ourselves. We venture into our minds and into worlds unknown as though we were explorers charting new lands. And to write is to suffer. Writing is often painful and tortuous, but to have something to show for our pain, we must continue.
Seeing that every time I sit down to write, I express these six attributes of courage fills me with a sense of pride. I have courage – me! The girl who is afraid of everything, who fears life itself. The girl who has to be medicated so that she can manage to leave her house, interact with people, and achieve some semblance of a normal life. I have courage! I suppose the moral of this story is that writing takes courage, and the act of writing in itself can in turn help our courage develop more. I like that thought.