the definition of courage - no. 1
When you think of the word "courageous", what other words come to mind?
Fearless? Brave? Risk- taker?
You know, for a long time, those are exactly the words I associated with "courage". And for a little while now, those are the sorts of words (some) people used to describe me.
Why? Oh, because I decided, at the age of 27, after having worked as a retail pharmacist for six years, to suddenly quit my job and pursue life as an entrepreneur.
In hindsight, the words "reckless", "irresponsible" and "insane" would have better described my rash decision. Sure, I'd achieved some success with my side business, Change Room Foods, but I was hardly earning a reliable wage. I'd been presented with some exciting opportunities and had collaborated with some of the most influential names in the business, too, but I didn't really know how to translate those experiences into an income. And my following on social media may have grown at an impressive rate, but that didn't mean I had reason enough to forego my safe and stable occupation.
Safe and stable.. A few years ago, those words would have made me inwardly reel in disgust. Life is for living, I'd say. I want to feel alive. But you know what? I should have just watched The Conjuring whilst sitting alone in the dark instead, because fast- forward a couple of years and those two words make me feel wistful instead of disgusted.
To be honest with you - and not many people know this - my decision to quit was completely impromptu. I'd thought - fantasised, even - about quitting my job every single day for close to a year, but the timing had never been planned. I really did just go to work one day and say to my boss before departing for lunch, "I'd like to speak to you about my resignation." It was impulsive, disruptive, terrifying and even as I did it, I wasn't sure it was the right thing to do.
(As an aside, it would seem I have a tendency to act on impulsive, disruptive, terrifying and questionable whims. Once, during a quiet lull at work, I asked a fellow pharmacist to pierce my ears. Another time, I rocked up to a Bondi tattoo parlour and got a tattoo - my parents still don't know about that one, though, so shhh..)
The past almost- two- years have been electrifying. When I reflect upon the people I've met, the friends I've made, the lessons I've learned, the projects I've worked on, the places I've been and the opportunities I've been presented with, I know that the decision I made was the correct one. But despite all of these things, there are moments - not infrequent - when I'd trade it all to feel safe again.
It isn't because I haven't found some degree of success; there have been many pinch- me moments. My recipes have been featured in national food magazines, I've been interviewed for a national fitness magazine and my photos have been published in national newspapers a few times. I've worked as a freelance recipe developer and digital content creator for some of the country's most well- known and well- respected companies, met some of my biggest idols, sat as a panelist in a couple of amazing events and now include social media management and consultation as services I provide. Most significantly, my partner and I turned one of my childhood dreams into a reality when we introduced a healthy Asian- inspired meals delivery service to Melbourne - and it was a hit!
No, the reason I often wish I could turn back time is because for me, my defining moment of (questionable) courage was also a moment of reckless selfishness. I never once paused to consider what the consequences would be – for myself or for my loved ones. I hadn’t addressed any of the holes in my plan – in fact, I didn’t even have a plan! I’d spent a year daydreaming about being able to call myself the E word (i.e. entrepreneur) but never spent a moment strategizing how to responsibly make it happen.
The reason closest to my heart, however, is because my partner and I had spoken frequently about getting engaged and then married. When I came home from work and sheepishly announced that I had quit my job, he was incredulous. I hadn’t extrapolated beyond my desire to quit my job, or considered how freelance work (read: completely unpredictable – both in terms of frequency as well as magnitude of income) would affect our plans. See, engagement rings and weddings are expensive – or at least, I’ve heard they are. I wouldn’t know. We are still neither engaged nor married (we are still very much in love and happily dating though, which, given the circumstances, I can assure you is no easy feat!).
Most examples of courage involve some form of sacrifice, and while I have lost count of the number of things I have sacrificed, I do not consider myself to be courageous or brave. Courageousness requires acknowledging what risks might be involved prior to taking action. I made my move without first contemplating what might be at stake, so my actions can only be described as reckless, not courageous. Not brave. There’s a lot to be said about people who quietly chase their dreams and wait for the right time to pursue them with all of their hearts – even if it means waiting impatiently for years. I wish I had done the same.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s not regret that I feel. Rather, it’s wistfulness that I wasn’t more prepared or more thoughtful. I followed my heart without listening to my head, and that is the part I wish I could undo. Anatomically speaking, the heart may supply the brain with what it needs, but the heart wouldn’t know what to do in the first place if it wasn’t for the brain. I should have listened to both.
So, if you have a dream, a vision, a passion – chase it. Honestly, you never know what might happen. You never know who you might meet, where you might go or what you might see. You may find yourself someplace you never dreamed possible.
Follow you heart, but bring your head with you. You’ll need both, you really will.
And as for me, please don’t call me courageous or brave. I’m not those things at all. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be.