1) I’d write this blog honestly. To answer such a question demands a level of honesty that we’d all like to say we’re comfortable with…while we avoid eye contact with the discussion leader and hope someone else answers the question first. We aren’t going around the room, are we? Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” The same must be true about fearlessness. Fearlessness isn’t an act, but a habit. I would practice fearlessness. Why not start in this blog?
2) I’d stop asking the question and start answering it. I love to be the asker. I’m a curious person who spends a lot of time thinking about things. I love to understand people. In a casual conversation with two others about their personal relationships, I hurled this question into the mix. It shouldn’t be relegated to just women and leadership. The applications are endless. Of course, as a single woman, I’m an expert on relationships (and yes – that was drenched in sarcasm). It took me a few days to sheepishly send a text message to the one friend apologizing for pushing an issue that wasn’t mine to push. Instead, I should turn that same question in on myself and my own relationships (or lack thereof) and ask myself what I would do.
3) I’d stop making excuses and make time to put myself out there. The irony is that I’ve surrounded myself – somewhat accidentally – with brave individuals who are doing just that. They are casting fear to the side and jumping into the discomfort with both feet. They try new things, they go new places, and they meet new people. And they are completely ruining that excuse of, “There just isn’t enough time!” Of course there is. Sure, we’re busy; but we aren’t that busy. (Between you and me, sometimes I put work aside and enjoy a bowl of popcorn, glass of wine, and episode of Scandal… and the world continues to spin.) I have a lot of work. I have family commitments. But truthfully, if I wasn’t afraid to put myself out there, I’d have time.
4) I’d ask for what I need. I’m not that girl. I meet needs, I don’t have them. Let me know if there’s anything you need! Just ask! My door’s open! (See how I said all that with a big smile?!) I am happy to help you meet your need. Then, late at night, when I’m agonizing over my own needs – or more likely the painfully negative impact of not articulating what they were in the first place – I get a little bitter and snarky and feel some sort of way towards others. And then I get mad at myself because I can’t really be mad at others since I never told them what I wanted or needed in the first place. And damn – why do I have to be so thoughtful and self-aware that I can’t even just be irrationally mad at people in the middle of the night when they are fast asleep and will never know anyway?!?!
5) I’d dance and sing more. In public. Just because. And not care that the person passing me in the aisle of the grocery store thinks I’m nuts. I’ve got a good song (or whole playlist) in my head and it makes me happy and I’m sharing my joy with the world.
6) I’d hug and kiss my kids even more than I do now. They are tolerant individuals who seem to genuinely be ok with their mom being a little weird. And that makes me want to squeeze them as if there’s a chance the world may end tomorrow and nobody’s been able to get Will Smith on the phone to come and save the day. (He should always be your go to guy, especially if aliens are trying to destroy earth.)
7) I’d find and fall in love. ‘Nuff said.
And my last one…I’d be brave. How awesome is that? Stand in front of the mirror, look yourself in the eye, and repeat after me – I am brave. Yes, Sara Bareilles – I’d show you how big my brave is. Thanks for writing the soundtrack to my brave.
I AM BRAVE.
WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU WEREN’T AFRAID?
Ifeoma U. Aduba