What is it to be courageous?

People are calling me courageous; I don’t think I am.  Adventurous, gutsy, intrepid and spirited yes, but not courageous.  Having given some thought to why this seems to be a common adjective when people talk about my choice to change things up, I thought I’d share my thoughts on the matter.

Merriam-Webster online defines courage as “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty”.  There are several elements to this definition that do not apply to what I am doing.  I am moving overseas, this is not unique, difficult or challenging.  Many people from all cultures from all over the world do this on a regular basis. 

So why does this word come up again and again?  I am 46, well established in my profession, wife, mother…I have been moving through life as one might expect for a typical Canadian woman.  I had my overseas gap year in university when I lived as an au-pair for a family in France.  I’ve traveled with my family to places like Disneyland, Yellowstone, New Orleans, Vancouver Island, Mexico and Europe.  I own a home, have a dog and enjoy regular social activities with friends and coworkers.  This is a predictable life, a normal life, it falls clearly within the bounds of what society says I should do.

But I have flipped that predictable world over.  It is not expected that after 20 years in a profession that one would take a leave and move to the other side of the planet.  This is not a promotion and the compensation is not what I receive here.  I am going alone; my son has recently moved out and my husband will continue his work here.  Making this move is, in some ways, snubbing the normal, expected path of a middle-aged woman.  I think this is why people say I am courageous.

I said at the beginning that I would describe myself as adventurous, gutsy, intrepid and spirited. I have never shied away from new things, have even taken measured risks on occasion and no one who knows me would say that I am meek or quiet.  It takes guts to pursue your passion especially if the path to do so flies in the face of the normal (expected) course of things.

If you have traveled with me you would know that I research deeply before heading off.  I have done as much as ever for this adventure and feel certain that while there will be challenges, I have nothing to fear, there is no life-threatening danger.  While many elements in my life will be different than home, I am excited for the change and don’t perceive them to be difficulties, just daily adventures.

Perhaps the only element of courage that I feel applies to me is the part about mental strength.  I can acknowledge that it takes guts and fortitude to make this change.  Second guessing my decision, worrying about all the what if’s and wishing COVID-19 had not messed things up royally have plagued me since day one.  Yet, in spite of all those thoughts I am heading off. 

Call me adventurous, gutsy, intrepid and spirited if you must but save courageous for others.

Check out YouTube and website for Drew Binsky.  I have followed him for ages and love how he tells stories of real people from all over the world  https://drewbinsky.com/

Photos taken while my mom (Denise) and my sister (Raina) were spending some girl time together in Banff before I leave. The wild alpine flowers were unbelievable and Lake Louise is always picture perfect.

2 thoughts on “What is it to be courageous?

  1. Happy to get this blog registered to my email. Looking fwd to reading about your ‘new’ life! I’ve done a lot of tourist travel and once moved my family to Mexico for two years, but never to SE Asia and a job! I hope your first days are going well!


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