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On being brave and the speeding of time

to conquer fear

A few people have said to me how brave it is for me to move to Brussels by myself. Now I know it’s not that difficult to move somewhere for five months when there are about a hundred other people in the same boat, to a city that is used to the comings and goings of people like us. It’s hardly reporting from a war zone. But still, it is a scary thing to do, and therefore something to be brave about.

Except I wasn’t brave at all. I think bravery implies that you recognise your fear, you think about it and then you do it anyway. This, like pretty much anything I’ve achieved in the last few years I didn’t really think about much. I just put myself in a situation where I’d signed up for something, and by the time I realised it was actually pretty scary it was just sort of there, and I had to deal with it.

There was only actually ten days between when they announced it and when you had to have your form in. Ten actual days, not ten working days. Ten days to read it, discuss with your family/partner, speak to the policy colleagues to get support and find out which department would be must useful, write two big long application forms and get these checked by said policy people and persuade the senior people with the money that this is a brilliant idea and totally worth you being away while still getting paid so they can’t replace you. All it really took was one decision by me to apply, which was easy because I didn’t think I’d get it, and then the wheels were set in motion and I was off planning negotiating tactics and phoning the deputy director every hour to get him to look at my case. I got so caught up in all the persuading I never really stopped to think about what it would mean. And then I got through the selection and I was doing it, and I had to do all the millions of things in preparation, and then it was two days before and my stomach was doing nervous backflips.

And that’s how it is with almost anything I do now. Time seems to really speed up as you get older, everything is hurtling towards you all the time, and it’s just about all you can do to keep going. For example, when I was younger, whenever I had to do a presentation, I would spend days and days writing it and practicing it to the point where I had memorised the whole thing as full sentences, and I’d be a nervous wreck beforehand. How I sometimes give training courses, which is way scarier, and I’ll spend maybe an hour reading though my notes. I’m sure that same nervous wreck is still inside me somewhere, but I just don’t have the time to let it out any more.

And I actually think that’s not a bad way to do things. To do brave things, you don’t need to be brave all the time, all it needs is that short period where you commit yourself to something and place yourself in a situation where you have to to it, and then life’s busyness will take care of the rest. Obviously the thing you commit yourself to do has to be something that’s just a little bit of a stretch, something you can actually do. But if you ever thought for even one minute that you can do it, you probably can. And all it needs is that short period of confidence to commit to something and then you don’t need to be brave at all.

That is my random little theory of bravery! I think while I’m in Brussels and life is hurtling towards me (ha!) I will just have to put these half formed ideas out there because they’ll never get a chance to grow into something proper. That or just post pictures.

*** Edit: I’m not just talking about moving country. I think this applies to virtually any decision: To sign up for a new leisure activity, to study something, to go for a job interview, to run a marathon **

And in more randomness, I had this song in my head the whole time I was writing this. I have a soft spot in my heart for Menswear. Anyone else old and British enough to remember them?

photo source

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  • Emily, Ruby Slipper Journeys 21 March 2012, 11:46 am

    I absolutely agree with this! I get told I’m brave all the time for moving to different countries, and like you, I don’t feel brave at all in day to day life. It really is just a case of doing it, and while I usually have a mild panic when I’m actually at the airport, and two days of nihilistic depression when I arrive, it’s generally too late for second thoughts by then. And then survival mode switches on!
    Emily, Ruby Slipper Journeys recently posted..a soft-focus dreamland: audrey grace magazineMy Profile

    • Franca 22 March 2012, 7:50 am

      I was thinking of you and your many moves when I wrote this actually – my one little one pales in comparison! Though whether something scares you 9and hence is something to be brave about) is subjective of sourse!

  • Rach 21 March 2012, 2:08 pm

    I was in the ‘arrive and deal with it when I get there’ gang for many years and conversely, my ‘brave’ move has been to quit that and try to stay in one place. Jury’s still out…
    Btw, am both old enough and British enough to love love love Menswear & contemporaries!
    Enjoy Brussels (I gained sooo much weight when I worked there- be warned!)

    • Franca 21 March 2012, 3:42 pm

      Several people have told me about putting on weight in Brussels! So far I’ve not put on any, thanks mainly to the fact that I no longer eat portion sizes designed for my 6 foot 3 husband, as I do at home! That pretty much cancels out the extra beer.

  • Vivian 22 March 2012, 10:11 am

    Wow! The image of a woman is really cool, reaching upon the grace post as this… Lovely beautiful!

  • Born25 22 March 2012, 1:50 pm

    Thanks for sharing this bravely video clips, I feel the warm emotions in this song performance…

  • Lorena 22 March 2012, 7:37 pm

    Go Franca !
    Sometimes you don’t have time to think and are completely overwhelmed and then.. the coin drops.
    A few weeks back I was “brave enough” to take a trip to NY. My idea was to speak my mind to someone I love dearly and have a long conversation on possibilities.
    I took all the guts I have to buy that ticket and get on that plane. I had even thought of the way I was going to say things and then… I got an email: he was not in NY 🙁
    But, I had the guts !
    Lorena recently posted..KimonoedMy Profile

  • Terri 23 March 2012, 3:39 am

    Oh, I like this post. I am pondering retirement which feels like such a big, scary decision to me. I don’t really envision it as the end of my working life, but a switching of gears from one thing to another. But, I don’t yet know what the other thing is–I have not had to look for work in over 20 years and I am so afraid that the world has changed and that I no longer no how to go about it. This gives me courage.
    Terri recently posted..Beauty InsomniaMy Profile

  • THE-LOUDMOUTH 23 March 2012, 4:36 am

    Good luck with your move. Or have you already moved? I need to catch up here!!

    It’s funny — when I moved to California from Michigan, thousands of miles from my family and hometown, people said I was brave. But it was an easy decision to make. It got scary a year later when I was scraping together loose change to pay my rent at the end of every month, and then I finally felt brave — not brave for moving there, but for staying there.
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