Last week, I held a discussion group on the subject of midlife reinvention. Twenty women came together to talk about everything from the wisdom of planning versus leaping in faith, to how hard it can be to break the insidious inertia of being bound to a familiar, secure but boring place in your life.
While individual situations were all very different, the common thread that evening was ‘courage’. We often think courage has to be big and splashy, but what I heard that night is it’s more likely to be gained one small step at a time.
I used to believe that having courage meant not being afraid. And that if I felt afraid something was wrong with me. But, my favorite quote has become, “Courage is not the absence of fear, it is acting in spite of it” by Mark Twain. Ah, now. That matches my experience and what I hear from other women.
For example, it’s a fact that women are more risk averse than men financially. Amen, sistah! Concern about my security is my constant companion. I’m following my bliss alright, but at a financial cost in the short term, hoping, but with no guarantees, that I will ultimately ‘make it up’. If I think about it too much, I can (and occasionally do!) freak out.
Then, there was the woman that night who had mastered the financial piece. Her fear was failing to live up to others’ perception of her as ‘The Successful Woman’, rightfully proud of her accomplishments, always ‘together’. Reinventing would mean leaving the familiar comfort of that self-concept for the uncertain path of creating a new one.
Learning to manage the fear is where courage is found. It’s like a muscle that, exercised regularly, becomes stronger and stronger. Scary process? Duh! But for me, seeing how far I’ve come is a seriously empowering thrill.
What is your biggest reinvention fear? What baby step can you take to start building your courage muscle?