Self-Confessed Coward

I’m going to do another ‘Tuesday Time-out’ post later, but I wanted to talk a bit about courage.

First, a navel-gazing story. A few years ago I took a course. I’ve taken a lot of courses. Most of them, including my big ol’ degree, I haven’t done a lot with afterwards. The instructors of these courses nearly always make everyone participate in “ice-breaking” exercises. I guess they are supposed to help classmates bond over shared appreciation of U2 or something. Anyway, in the class I am referring to we split into groups. After chatting for less than five minutes, each group member was supposed to come up with a descriptor word for everyone else. The word had to start with the same letter as the person’s name.

Awkward. At least for me it was. Being the shyest person from here to Planet Goldilocks, these activities always make me nauseous. I’ve gotten better but back in 2004? Pure hell. For the most part I just sat there while my fellow group members chatted about how cool it was they all loved pineapple on pizza. In fact, they were so busy waxing poetical on fruit, we ran out of time for the exercise. When it came time to share with the rest of the class, the guy we chose to present just quickly came up with monikers all on his own. The one I got stuck with?

Cautious Kristine.

Disregarding the fact that the letters are not the same (grrrr), the word really bugged me. Not that it wasn’t true. Of course it was. For not saying a word to me the whole time, the dude obviously had me figured out. Cautious Kristine is who I was. But it was not how I wanted the world to see me. For the duration of the course and beyond, I agonised over the word. Is that all I will ever be?

Now that I’m older, I don’t know if the word is such a bad one after all. I still wouldn’t choose it for myself as my one-word descriptor – can anyone be summed up that way? Yet, I’m starting to discover the benefits of being careful, of planning ahead. Sometimes, perhaps, I take things too far and worry just a wee bit too much. Sometimes my cautious nature holds me back completely. That is something I’m working on. But other times, taking a moment to think before jumping off the high-dive, is just plain smart.

I read this quote by Anne Carmack on the Your Courageous Life blog:

“It takes balls to show up for your life. So I may think you’re rad if you are up for a bungee jump but I think you’re miraculous if you are up for today.”

As someone who is trying to transform from Cautious Kristine into Courageous Kristine (the letters still don’t match, I know) this stuck in my head. Maybe I’m already braver than I thought.

And now for something dog-related. The Animal Rescue Site has a fantastic program going on right now called “Click to Give.” Each little click of the mouse goes toward providing food for dogs currently living in animal shelters across the continent. They are also featuring a Shelter Challenge, giving shelters and rescue groups a chance to win a $2,000 giveaway. The winning organisation will be chosen by online voters. You should go over and check it out when you have time. Like, um, now, for instance.

One thought on “Self-Confessed Coward

  1. I was once called reserved in an interview, and I know the man meant it as an un-compliment. I wasn’t in a position to gift him with an adjective in return. Well, that’s to say, I thought I wasn’t. The worst part about my cautiousness is oftentimes not saying something that should be said on my own behalf. I get tired of kicking myself after the fact because of that. As you said, “Sometimes my cautious behavior holds me back completely.” This is something I have to work on, too. I think your post was full of courage. 🙂

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