Participating in a bridge year in a foreign country screams bravery. Despite my outward appearance, very often being brave is a struggle for me. Although, I am still thrilled to be a part of this immersion experience every day, it takes courage to get out of bed and go to breakfast with the eagerness to pay attention to the rapid Spanish. It takes nerve to ask for the millionth time “Como se dice…?” It takes courage to learn all you can every day. It’s tiring, but I want it all badly enough that I’m being brave.
Recently, I had an epiphany about myself. After Immersion Week, my cohort (The Napasta Farians) reconvened for four days to discuss, reflect, and prepare for the upcoming weeks. During this regional training seminar, one of the activities was stating our vision statements. The first time we worked on our vision statements in Quito, I was unable or more unwilling to go deep inside myself to search for my true vision. Since then, I’ve thought extremely hard about why I am here, and what I am hoping to accomplish from this experience. While I was shouting my vision statement from a balcony in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest, I simply realized, I can do this. I can and want to fulfill my vison statement. In order to accomplish my vision, I will take each day and every moment with an unwillingness to back down. On the last day of the regional training seminar, the poem To Risk by William Arthur Ward was presented to us.
To laugh is to risk appearing a fool,
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach out to another is to risk involvement,
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.
To place your ideas and dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss.
To love is to risk not being loved in return,
To live is to risk dying,
To hope is to risk despair,
To try is to risk failure.
But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing.
He may avoid suffering and sorrow,
But he cannot learn, feel, change, grow or live.
Chained by his servitude he is a slave who has forfeited all freedom.
Only a person who risks is free.
The pessimist complains about the wind;
The optimist expects it to change;
And the realist adjusts the sails.
Although, I don’t relate to poetry very often this poem caught my attention immediately. I took the poem and now have it hanging on my closet door. The poem is not only as a reminder to step into my stretch zone, but to give me a challenge every day. One goal of mine is to dig deep to find out who I truly am. In order for me to attempt to reach that goal, I need to challenge myself to take risks.
“To weep is to risk appearing sentimental”
“To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self”
“To hope is to risk despair”
“To try is to risk failure”
To weep, to expose feelings, to hope, and to try are my fears and are the most difficult for me to overcome.
At the end of the regional training seminar, we all stood in line and had a minute to share our admirations and acknowledgements of the person across from us. Repeatedly, I was told that they admired my strength. During this process, it really hit me how strong I am and how I can use that strength to support many different parts of my life. For a long part of my life I focused on continuously being strong and never being able to break, however my definition of strength has very much changed. I realized that the wording of my definition was impossible to achieve. Instead of living with a false idea that I will never crash, I am determined to maintain strength, not try to pursue invincibility. With my new ideology, I am ready to be brave, take on numerous challenges, and to risk.
P.S All of my blog titles are song titles. This one is “Brave” by Tawgs Salter.