There are moments in our lives that we believe define us. The good, unforgettable moments, but more often, the unfortunate, heartbreaking ones. They’re the ones that shake up our current perspectives – how we see ourselves and the world around us. They’re the moments we struggle to navigate and understand.
But, with time and courage, we learn and grow from them.
My story isn’t anything special, nothing so extraordinary to deserve any kind of significant attention; but it is one that shook up my life as I knew it. It shifted my perspective on the person I thought I was; the person I was working towards becoming.
It was a season in my professional life that if I'm being honest, I’ve really struggled to heal and recover from.
After a steady, fairly successful career in the corporate media industry, I was made redundant. I lost my job as many people do each day, as so many have these last few years especially. What I’ve realised is that what follows such a common event, isn’t widely spoken about.
The feelings of vulnerability, shame and hopelessness of being unemployed are so real, yet so easily overlooked. The impact on one’s confidence, too easily dismissed.
In the most simple terms, that's what happened to me – I lost my confidence.
My identity and self-worth was so wrapped up in my job that when it was taken away from me, I struggled to piece together the other parts of who I am that have value. I struggled to make sense of my purpose in life, to once again believe that my voice was worth listening to.
I've struggled to rebuild the courage needed to my manage my daily worries, let alone pursue new dreams without constant fear.
I’ve spent much of the last six years walking uphill, needing to stop frequently to catch my breath and regain my strength. I still don’t have much visibility on what’s before me – if we ever really do – only the knowledge that I need to keep walking.
Rediscovering and applying courage with each and every step.
Which brings me to today. Halfway through year 2023.
I feel the call as my next step, to strive to better understand this idea of ‘courage’. To learn why something so easily lost, is so difficult to find again. And not only to find, but to harness and channel into productive, inspired action.
Along my unemployed and entrepreneurial adventures, I’ve become convicted that ‘courage’ is a key ingredient to success. It’s essential to acquiring a sense of meaning and fulfilment in one’s career and life in general.
Courage is a seemingly simple concept, but one that is rich and layered and pertinent to us all, no matter our backgrounds, experiences and perspectives.
There is complexity beneath the surface because even in our awareness and understanding of the word ‘courage’, there is a deeper learning required before we can fully embrace and allow this virtue to transform our lives.
Courage is dynamic for us all, it is grasped and it is lost, desired and utilised. Sometimes it feels elusive, individual or collective – but as I’m learning, it is always existing and available. It’s a learned skill, an opportunity, an emotion. It can come in short bursts or last throughout seasons.
Courage can also be a moment, a person, an idea or endeavour.
I especially like to view courage as a kind of antidote to fear.
A weapon against doubt and worry.
We often see courage visually depicted as a kingly lion, a golden eagle or wild bear. It’s commonly symbolised in the shape of a heart, a blaze of fire or the colour red.
We see courage in David who defeated Goliath, in Rosa Parks sitting on a bus or in Mel Gibson as Sir William Wallace in Braveheart.
Courage is inspirational and aspirational. It tells the story of those who fought while they lived and left legacies after they died. It tells the story of the people we hope and long to become.
The problem with these depictions of courage however, is that they seem out of our reach. They’re a little removed from our every day, from those ordinary, seemingly insignificant moments, which happen so much more than the extraordinary experiences that sprinkle our lives.
And so I’m also interested in an alternative take on courage – the one which inherently exists inside all of us, simply waiting to be harnessed, developed and shared.
In her book Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert writes that “Creative living is a path for the brave.”
As a multi-passionate creative person, I truly believe that courage is synonymous with creativity.
It’s in the books we read, the music we listen to and the films we watch. It’s in dance and art and technology. It’s in the people making and playing and experimenting with these things.
It’s in those who dare to pursue creative jobs and careers.
This is courage to me.
It’s well-known that the creative pathway is uncertain, unconventional and non-linear. There are no guarantees in the outcome of any creative project or pursuit. Yet, there are abundant lessons and blessings in the process.
I believe that creative people are the greatest champions of courage. Just like those who set out to climb Mount Everest or sail around the world, creative people dare to think beyond limits, they live beyond the ordinary, welcome the challenges and work tirelessly through optimism, resilience and self-belief.
Creativity breeds courage, and courage breeds confidence. That’s the kind of person I used to be. And the kind of person I’d like to feel like again, more and more each day.
So how do people overcome trials and adversities? How do they rise above rejection and fear? What is it that gives them the courage to dream and work to accomplish their goals? What drives them each day to create opportunities and embrace experiences that draw them closer to what they desire for their lives?
I’m on a mission to find out. To hear from brave people who are sharing their talents and voices in their communities, industries and with the world. To get inside the minds of creative, passionate and inspiring individuals. To learn from their stories and be challenged by their perspectives.
This is a podcast on courage, and I encourage you to listen, share and subscribe.
© 2023 Eira Joy Aringay