Courage and Faux Bravery

I smell like cologne. Like man cologne. And there are 4 new bruises on my hands and probably a few more on my legs. I am in the office with unwashed hair tied high on my head into a ponytail and a churning in my stomach because my colleague is talking about the delicious Bak Kut Teh she wants to have for lunch. But more importantly, I am trying very hard to recall the spark of brilliance I had last night which I vividly remember hastily typing into my phone but has obviously vanished in a puff of smoke. (Much like my sanity) The only thing I can remember is the title I so wittily chose for that epiphanous moment and am reminded that I wanted to talk about bravery.

I am afraid of many things-beetles, lizards, capsicums, oily hair, dry hair, being forgotten, making new friends, losing old friends… If I made it my personal conquest to collate them all, the list would probably take its place on the Guinness book of world records for being the longest scroll ever. On a scale of 1 to 10, I probably place myself between a 2 and a 2.5. Courage the cowardly dog would be so proud of me. It’s hard to tell that behind the gungho façade and the daredevil image, I actually am a piece of silken tofu inside. I, like anybody, get queasy before a rollercoaster ride and try to conjure up a million lame excuses in an attempt to avoid getting on it (even though I suggested it in the first place). I, like anybody, feel like my heart is about to escape from my mouth before I address a crowd way too large for comfort (even though I clambered and clawed my way to that position). I, like anybody, feel like my legs are reduced to jelly when looking down from a height over 4 stories tall (even though I willingly climbed up there in the first place). This is also possibly how the epiphany came to me last night. Even when we’re not brave enough, pretending to be fearless sometimes help make us that little bit more courageous. Note my attempts at faux bravery in the parentheses above.

Faux bravery AKA pretending-you-are-completely-unfazed-when-you-are-actually-scared-shitless is an art. It is like jumping into the deep end of the pool before you’ve even learnt to swim. I like to think of it as letting my heart grab hold of the steering wheel while my brain has been dumbed down by either too much fear or too much alcohol. But hey, the good news is that while pretending to be brave, you actually do become a lion, or get a lion’s heart in exchange at least. Feigning bravery often means you end up doing the things you would never have done in the first place, thus making you that much  bolder. Try having to exterminate a flying roach because you have a younger sibling cowering behind you in fear. You have no choice, so take a deep breath, mumble words of comfort (which probably is meant for yourself rather than for your baby sister) and pretend that that thumb-sized pest isn’t your greatest nightmare. When you’ve won that epic battle between man and insect, pat yourself on the back and throw your arms up in victory. You’ve just faced your biggest fear and survived. You’ve also become the most courageous person to have ever graced this planet, because courage isn’t about being fearless. It is about being able to face your bête noir.

However, there are times you have to come to terms with the fact that there are some phobias you cannot overcome and likewise, there are some fears you cannot face. But we will soon come to realize that being able to accept that truth is in fact an act of bravura as well. Therefore, I shall continue to stare at that daunting green stalk of asparagus and calmly convince myself that I, being so brave and valiant, will acknowledge the fact that I cannot and will never be able to stomach such a repulsive vegetable, give myself a reaffirming nod and walk away triumphant and proud.

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