When Inspiration Becomes the Standard
We often tell ourselves or others to “be strong” or to “be brave.” Instead of instilling inspiration, these statements can sometimes provoke the opposite effect. It becomes another standard we have to meet and triggers more ripples of fear. A colossal ideal that sits atop the shiny, elevated pedestal erected by society, it’s unreachable by the average person, although a desired possession for our egos. The path to get there can even be harmful at times, as we sacrifice important aspects of ourselves along the way.
A Sense of Stolen Identity
I was feeling somewhat down the other day, as I felt that I had lost a lot of the fire I possessed in my youth. When I was going through the most painful experience of my life at 17, I didn’t really take any painkillers, as I had bought into the belief that they’re bad for you.
Now, I pop one when I feel that I’ve had enough. I’m sick of being in pain. While that makes sense, I’m also somewhat disappointed, as if I had lost a quality I admired in myself. I was no longer being ‘strong’ or ‘brave’, just a weakling who relied on painkillers for pain that was much milder than what I had experienced before.
But a thought sliced through that despair. I realised that I didn’t have to be Strong, I can just aim to be a little stronger. I don’t have to be Brave, just a little braver than before. A little kinder, a little gentler, a little better than before. I felt a sense of courage jolt through me with that thought, all within the span of a few seconds.
Setting Realistic Standards
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The problem with trying to be ‘Strong,’ is that we’re comparing ourselves against an impossible standard. I can usually tell when my intention is wrong, when I start to worry about how others will judge me should I fail to meet it. Instead, I can choose to set a standard to meet me where I am in life right now. By doing so, I turn that impossibility into a possibility that I can meet.
Life is large, ever-changing, and tethers itself to no one society, thought or perspective. It encompasses all ways of living. We don’t have to worry that we’re degrading into worthlessness, as long as we keep moving in the right direction.
Being Brave Doesn’t Mean that Fear No Longer Exists
The word ‘courage’ would probably have no meaning without the existence of ‘fear.’ Courage is to look fear in the eye (or in the corner of your vision!), and to walk past that dragon’s lair anyway. If that beast doesn’t frighten you, then you could just stroll by without valor.
Even if all you take is one small step forward, it is still a powerful act. It is to have some faith in yourself, to know that you can traverse this travesty, and survive this tragedy. When I feel overwhelmed, this thought inspires me. I feel a sense of relief, as if the heavy weight of that gold standard is lifted, which frees me up to move and actually get going.
“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.” – Mark Twain
Sheryl runs “A Chronic Voice”, a health, wellness and chronic illness blog. She had a mini stroke at 14, followed by multiple blood clots, seizures, heart rhythm dysfunctions and surgeries over the years. She also has a gore-tex band in replacement of a heart valve. She shares her experiences in hope that it raises awareness on silent disabilities, and to let others know they are not alone in this. You can follow her on social media here: