Recently I was given the chance to be brave. In my life there are not many opportunities to live that cliche oft spouted on inspirational posters and face book walls and old episodes of The Apprentice:- Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. My life is fairly humdrum involving many, many tasks none of which are particularly difficult or scary. Hard work for sure but not seat of the pants type stuff.
In the dim past when I was working most of my days were full of stuff that scared the living daylights out of me, presenting to clients, picking up the phone and cold calling, meteing out difficult decisions, lending millions of pounds and hoping it would be repaid and the like. But since leaving and having kids those sorts of activities have kind of gone away.
Yes I have had to be brave at certain times. Because life was shitty and the ill health of myself or others needed to be borne and soldiered on through. But that is a different sort of brave. That sort of brave is a braveness of necessity, I am thinking here of optional bravery. When one puts oneself out there. But didn’t have to.
In fact this blog is the scariest thing I have done in sometime. Writing personally for the hopeful enjoyment of an unknown readership. But it is not an immediate type of scary. It is a ‘help only 3 people have read it today’ type of scary. And anyway in the scheme of things does that actually matter? Especially when one is up against Strictly Come Dancing The Final….
This sort of ‘optional bravery’ is all the more pertinent to me because my kids are often very brave in that sort of way. And often I am not all that understanding of what they are going through. In fact I may actually put them in situations they would rather avoid because of the bravery involved. I think I am helping them build their characters and so I encourage them to enter festivals and music competitions and reading competitions and sports competitions and….
And so often my boys are performing with their instruments such as at last week’s Christmas concert, or my Youngest is taking to the pitch as the only girl on the field, or one is playing piano in assembly, or singing a solo as Joseph age 9 (that was Eldest still one of my proudest moments as a mum), or playing an amazing violin solo at a small concert (Middlest age 10, OK Joseph is only joint proudest moment…). Etc. Last week Eldest gave a speech in the end of term Assembly in front of the whole of Years 7, 8 and 9. To be fair I hadn’t ‘made’ him do that, his form teacher had, but still it was a big ask for a 12 year old. And every year they are all in the church Nativity Service on Christmas Eve when the whole village turns out to watch. They take music exams which I remember from my childhood made me feel physically sick.
And yes just before their performances I too get nervous, experiencing that butterfly in the stomach feeling on their behalf hoping they don’t muck up and make themselves feel bad. For although the cliche goes that it is doing it anyway that is important succeeding is also quite a biggy. Even if succeeding is just getting through it.
And so when my choir mistress asked me to sing a solo at our concert yesterday my immediate reaction was ‘Not on your nelly!’. But she asked me to think about it. So I did. Other than the fact that I was very flattered that she had asked me and therefore had faith in my ability to do it at least some justice, I decided I needed to ‘live’ that advice I often give my kids, that a little bit of bravery can deliver all sorts of rewards in terms of self esteem at a job well done.
I didn’t tell anyone beforehand. Mostly because my children have extreme versions of my ‘sympathy’ nerves and would have worried about me. Middlest was very nervous watching Eldest do that speech in Assembly last week. I didn’t want to put him through that too early in proceedings.
So they only knew when they turned up to watch.
And yes just before my slot my bowels went to liquid and my thighs got that awful achy, dead sort of feeling (which incidentally I also get when I drink alcohol which is why I don’t) which meant I felt like I might fall over, my stomach was doing somersaults and it was hard to catch my breath (not great for singing). But I got my note, breathed in deeply and went for it.
Afterwards everyone was very kind. One lady asked me if the kids on the front row were mine. When I told her that they were she replied that she had guessed as much because they had looked so proud.
And so I guess that is why I did it. To prove that bravery of that sort is for everyone. Even if they are 46. And I hope next time they need to deal with their bowels and thighs and stomachs and breath they might remember their mum singing alone in front of 250 people and decide it is worth the risk.