A few weeks ago, I was told by a woman with grandkids who was currently on a four month trip through South America, that she was not as brave as me. I thought to myself – why does she think that? Why doesn’t she see herself just as brave as me? Why does she even compare us?
I’ve been told so many times before that I’m brave. I’ve been told by people who reduced their working hours to focus on preparing for a trip; by people who quit their jobs to find their true calling; by people who reached out for advice without even meeting me. And I think to myself, how do these people not see just how much courage it takes to do what they just did?
Comparison doesn’t work with people
I truly believe that there is no such thing as brave and braver. You do not need to jump out of an airplane, hitchhike on a boat, or try fried insects for dinner to be courageous. Bravery stands for stepping out of your comfort zone, trying something new, thinking differently, opening up to concepts you have never known about or rejected in the past.
Anything that challenges you requires bravery. Do not tell me that my grandmother who joined Facebook a few weeks ago is not ballsy. She never had a cell phone, computer or the Internet before. Not long ago I got a friend request from her. She opened up to technology, learning something she never cared about or rather feared. It took guts to finally make the decision to join the online world through a touchscreen smartphone – two things she had never used before.
Comparing yourself to others always leaves room for disappointment. How could you compare yourself to someone completely different on the same scale?
Let’s see. I was 18 and I never wanted to leave Hungary or Budapest. I didn’t understand how people could leave the best country on this planet, while not having a clue what it was like to actually live abroad. So I went to study abroad for a semester, just to see what the fuss was about. Then I moved away the minute I returned home, leaving the city I thought I could never leave.
One thing led to another and I started experiencing extreme starvation for challenge and learning. So I hopped between countries like people trying out gym classes to see what suits them best. I quit every single well-paying, prestigious job, sold all the clutter and said goodbye to friends annually. I had to just continually start over. I needed the change.
Each time I turned my life upside down, I made sure it was more challenging than the previous time. Until I crossed the Atlantic Ocean by hitchhiking a boat. Of course, it is going to seem braver than my grandmother joining Facebook. But do you think I could have done it all without gradually increasing the challenge? I do the crazy things because I can’t take a step back, just forwards. A new technology is no challenge for me, but it is for some. A challenge is a challenge and bravery is bravery. We all had to start somewhere.
The comfort zone and its neighbourhood
Whenever you step outside of your comfort zone it takes courage. It doesn’t matter how big the step was, it was a step. What I’m trying to say is, never compare yourself or your level of courage to anyone. You only need to prove your bravery to yourself and no one else.
Some of my readers reached out for advice because they already had the intention of travelling. That took guts! To admit that you are ready to take the next step, to send a message and trust some girl they have never met, and to admit to a stranger that they needed help. They are as brave as a prince battling dragons.
A small step for you, one giant step towards your dreams
The best part of most changes is that you have time. If you are not ready to take a big step, take a small one. You want to go travelling, but you’re scared? Go camping on a mountain close to you. Join Couchsurfing and start hosting backpackers. Go to meetings that you find on meetup.com in your city with the nomad community. Start learning a new language. So many things you can do in preparation for a big adventure.
Sometimes your desired outcome takes more steps than you initially thought, which is why you might feel overwhelmed or that the goal is unreachable. You don’t know where to start, or you are impatient. Guess what? You have time to figure everything out.
Stop underestimating your strengths, stop telling yourself that others do it better, others do it more. They just want it more. You don’t know where to start? Just start anywhere. Because very soon you will realize where you should have started and there are lie all the answers to your questions.
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