Showing Up is So Brave

I think of it often and imagine the scene clearly. Even if they come to kill me, I will tell them what they are trying to do is wrong, that education is our basic right.–Malala Yousafzai envisioning a confrontation with the Taliban

Yesterday, I found my thoughts drifting toward Newtown, CT.  The news was full of stories of the children and teachers of Sandy Hook returning to school.  All day long, I found myself sending thoughts of courage and peace to not only the teachers and students, but also the parents waiting anxiously for the privilege of bring their children safely home from school.  Today, I heard that Malala Yousafzai, the 15-year-old Pakistani activist who was shot by the Taliban for asserting that girls deserve education, has been discharged from the hospital.  She still has a long road to recovery, but she is reported to be cheerful and determined.  So what do you and I have in common with the community of Newtown and Malala Yousafzai?

What we have in common is the courage to show up in our lives.  The truth is, none of us is safe from the “random bad stuff” of life (I’ve written a lot more about this in “Sometimes Life Just Hurts, Part I and Part II).  We may face an unexpected illness, an accident, or a tragedy–just as Malala and the families of Newtown did.  And that means that we face a choice, every single day.  We can live in fear of the random bad stuff, putting our energy into trying to insulate ourselves from risk or harm.  Or, we can choose to set goals, fall in love, raise our children, try to bring change–we can show up.

I think that showing up, whether it is to school in Newtown or to your own daily life, is one of the bravest things that you can do.  Showing up means that you are choosing to be an active participant in your life.  When you show up, you are taking the risk of failing, taking the risk of getting hurt, taking the risk of learning painful lessons.  When you show up, you make a statement that you care enough to take the risk. That you value yourself and those around you. That you are willing to take a chance.

What are you showing up for, right now?  What are the choices you are making that reflect what you value, that highlight what is important to you, that show off your inner self?  What are you showing up for without even realizing it? (This happens a lot with parents, who make all kinds of sacrifices to show up for their families, but just chalk it up to “being a parent.” It also happens with people who are passionate about their work.)

Conversely, what are the parts of your life where you are absent?  Where is there less of your heart on the line than there could be? What is holding you back?  What could help you show up even more?

At a time of year when many people are focusing on resolutions, intentions, and goals–I’d like you to think about the ways that you achieve something powerful simply by being willing to take the risk of showing up.  You have so much to contribute. When you show up, no matter your health or other challenges, that is an act of daily courage.

Want to share your stories of showing up?  I’d love to hear them!


Quotation Credit: Peer, Basharat (10 October 2012). “The Girl Who Wanted To Go To School”. The New Yorker. Retrieved 15 October 2012.

Image Credit: Photo from CGCS Media Wire blog via Creative Commons license

2 thoughts on “Showing Up is So Brave

  1. Sometimes showing up and publicly sharing my views is a brave step. I know my views may not be supported by others. I know they may differ from others. But, sharing them may support a less vocal minority of students.

  2. Nice post, thoughtful. As a therapist, I’ve heard from many people that it can be difficult to keep showing up as a parent, as a spouse, as a committed employee, as a US citizen, to keep being engaged when so many unsavory and confusing things are happening around us. When I get tired, I re-group at home, sort of hibernate. Then I get recharged and with support from my colleagues, I’m able to keep on going.

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