Before entering high school, I had always associated the word ‘courage’ with the most common definition of being brave in face of mortal danger. Over time I came to realize that to be courageous does not always mean being brave at facing adversity. It takes courage to learn. It takes courage to be motivated to learn a new skill. For I know that we all are afraid of being exposed to something new, something we do not understand or have a complete knowledge of. A courageous act is not what other people think is courageous, rather it comes from within us. The most important definition of being courageous is overcoming your own fears. Whether it be the fear of joining a new club, of becoming a member of a certain group project, of taking tests, or of studying difficult subjects, all of these are examples of courageous acts.
We frequently degrade ourselves by saying that we can’t do something before even trying to do it. We do not like to take chances at failure. We are scared of being humiliated. We are self-conscious. We do not like to be exposed to a relatively new thing that is beyond our comfort zone. Unless we are certain that we will succeed, we would rather not take the chance at all. More often than not it is not because we are incapable of doing these tasks, we are needlessly preventing ourselves from entering a situation that we are actually qualified to enter.
Being courageous also means that we are willing to explore further than what we are normally accustomed to. For instance, I have a friend who is taking her first chemistry class at the Mendocino College. She is on the add-on list, meaning that if she is not competent enough in the class, she may be dropped from the class to give space to another prospective student. She has never taken chemistry, and rumor has it that it will be a demanding class. Because of this she frequently thinks that she is not capable to continue the class. Nevertheless, she is still fighting for her position in the class. Although situations like this may not seem at all difficult or worrisome to us, it is very much so to the person who is in that situation. The courageous act in this case is to continue that battle of choice and chances, and stay with the class.
Another instance I am personally having a difficulty with is the project I need to finish before finals. It is the project of categorizing and inputting all the books in the school library and around the building before finals. It may not seem impossible at all, just input books into the computer. Unfortunately, the sheer amount of books to be inputted in less than a month by an amateur “librarian” like myself is not something that I originally would have liked to get involved with. This is especially when your whole semester’s grade in that class depends on this. It is finals week next week. And for me it is more than that. I am being tested to see how far I can go forward in this new learning environment.
Therefore, I can identify with tackling difficult subjects in classes, and learning something new every step of the way. I think that how far we can go depends entirely on ourselves. Then we can see if we are courageous enough to face all the adversities. I realize now that it’s not because we are unable to do something, rather it is just that we are afraid of taking chances. And that is where courage comes in.