"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear." –Nelson Mandela
Every so often someone tells me that I am brave for having moved to New York City at eighteen or to Italy by myself in my twenties. It's a comment that always feels like someone is handing me a shirt that is way too big for me. Partly because "brave" seems like such a big word, but mostly because it never felt that way at all, there were actually some moments that were pretty awkward and scary. The real challenge was finding a way to be okay with the uncomfortable parts and accepting them as part of the ride. Here I am now with 15 years and three major moves under my belt and I'm still working on that part. If we're really honest, I think most of us are.
I like this talk by Astronaut Chris Hadfield because it's is a great reminder of that work (it also reminds me that Astronauts are super heroes). We all make choices in the face of fear. The challenge is to face it with a sense of serenity, to keep our mind out of fight-or-flight mode so we can make measured choices under stress. It's a lifelong exercise in mental strength that we all can achieve with practice.