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"You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”

― Benjamin Mee, We Bought a Zoo

It has probably been years since I have seen this movie, and this quote has stuck with me since. While it may sound like a simplification, I have found that there are two places we act from when making a decision: fear or courage. Fear can lead us to dead ends, while courage can lead us to exciting new destinations with endless adventures. Even so, it's hard to take that leap of faith whether it's speaking up about something that's bothersome or venturing out into unknown social situations. Setting boundaries by explicitly expressing our wants and needs to those around us is not a common conscious practice of most people. It can be terrifying to simply tell the truth about who we are, if we were to, we might face rejection, ridicule, and repercussions. What's worse, is that the chase of a dream may end in failure, or even worse: disappointment. However, if we are not transparent and choose to cloak our authentic selves, the most common result is missed opportunities, resentment, and wasted time. How many times have we watched a romance and lamented the fear of the character who is too fearful to express their love? We sometimes wish people would read our minds. Unfortunately, this may often appear as aloofness or lack of intention and emotion. I used to teach conversational English to international students, often from countries on the other side of the world from the United States. I never had a single student who wasn't terrified of being in a place that was everything but familiar to them. They were happy to laugh and converse with their friends (in English) at lunch, but as soon as they stepped in my classroom, every set of eyes would drop to the desk when asked to speak aloud. As a new teacher, I thought this meant they must have typical teenager syndrome, dually embarrassed of saying the wrong thing while being too cool to try. As a teacher, their silence seemed like indifference. My students were afraid, but the way it looked on the outside made it seem they were not interested. They had to get past the fear of making a mistake. Once they started talking, I couldn't get them to stop! Where there is a fear, there is always a tool. We did a lot of role-playing and practicing conversations. But that only started after one student took a leap of faith to inspire the rest to follow suit. Whatever the fear, you can gain the courage you want by asking for help. Share that bucket list and let's come up with a plan. We can write a script and practice that boundary you need to set or the confrontation you need to have. Or that secret crush, we can make it known. Courage will take you to places you never imagined! But if you let fear hold you back, you will always be stuck wondering. p.s. If you haven't seen the movie, you should! Spoiler alert! Insane courage worked out in a fabulous way.

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