How my daughter defined courage for me.

When my 7 yr old daughter discovered that her school was selecting the school council committee, she immediately knew that she wanted to take part because she felt capable. The school requested all prospective candidates to write a speech explaining why their classmates should vote for them.

Extremely keen, my daughter scribbled her speech promptly. l then assisted by correcting minimal punctuation and grammatical errors. She began practising and reading out the speech at home while l listened because she desperately wanted to do well. Leading up to the day of reading the speech at school, I noticed that she expressed several fears. She worried about how she would cope with the disappointment of not being chosen. Additionally, she was bothered about her classmates concluding that her speech might be “stupid “.

Now anybody who is a mum knows about the dilemma of wanting to shield your children from the pain of existing in the world. I certainly was no stranger to this handicap. However, my only way of guaranteeing that she didn’t experience the pain of failure was to ask her not to apply, which obviously wasn’t an option. l appreciated her reasoning that defeat was a real possibility but l was aware that winning was also very achievable.

She was reaching out to me for reassurance and l wanted to come up with intelligent advise that would automatically instill confidence in her and make everything ok? Initially l wanted to go down the route of ” let’s focus on the positive only scenario”, but sometimes in life this isn’t always a realistic option especially when dealing with children. I sensed that reassuring her that she would win, would be very misleading if she ended up experiencing failure. She would definitely resent me for lying and l didn’t want that kind of a relationship with my young daughter!

A great human being called Brene Brown imparted some practical advise which helped me support my daughter effectively. Before stumbling upon this lady’s wisdom, l thought that courage and vulnerability were two unrelated concepts. I never comprehended that the two concepts were interconnected. She shared knowledge of her research findings concluding that it’s not possible to be courageous without making ourselves vulnerable.

When l observed my daughter’s situation l understood two things; my daughter was feeling vulnerable because she was doing something courageous. Secondly, even though she had all these fears she never considered giving up.These two things sum up what courage means.

Glossophobia or public speaking is a very common phobia which affects 75% of the population. Amazingly, my daughter was up for the challenge at 7! I personally never felt courageous enough to consider tackling public speaking at her age. It’s still something that l dread to this day as an adult although with what l know now l have added it on my list of skills to acquire.

Understanding all this information enabled me to offer the right kind of support. I made her recognise that it wasn’t about what they thought of her speech or whether they chose her or not . It was about the fact that she had decided to step out of her comfort zone. I explained to her that she was already victorious because she felt brave enough to undertake something that others considered nerve wrecking. Apparently being vulnerable is the only accurate way of measuring how brave someone is. Success in life comes through being brave there is no way to creativity if you are not willing to fail. Being brave is more important than the outcome of what you have chosen to do.

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