I’ve moved across the country twice. The Midwest invited me 600 miles due north with a job promotion and the opportunity to hire and supervise a team of technical editors. When instinct beckoned me back to the South more than a decade later, I paid brief visits to three major metros known for both industry and creativity, sitting in each like Goldilocks might do if she was hunting for a new zip code. Atlanta felt “just right,” and some friends labeled my voluntary relocation to this city I now call home, “brave.”
Midwestern winters made me so nervous that living in Illinois required more moxie than leaving it. A few years ago, I traveled slowly over snow-slicked roads, past 15 ditched cars, to reach my hairdresser for our regular appointment. “I know just the bumper sticker you need,” a woman said. “Beauty before safety.” (My journey was not all foolishness or vanity, dear reader. In icier climates, stopping or turning around during an unexpected winter storm can be more treacherous than going forward, and the salt trucks, sand trucks and tow trucks are always on their way.)
Every region has its challenges, of course. I’ve chased a snake out of my Georgia garage with a broom. We choose some of our white-knuckled moments while other adventures and tragedies choose us. That’s life.
But there’s also a quiet courage in every soul, hidden until we share it. One of my boldest colleagues said – to my surprise – she sweats before posting articles online. Every time. No matter how many she’s written. Some people fear public speaking more than death, I’m told, but speeches are easy for me. I loved being a trainer, and I’d choose a podium over a big party of strangers any day. And we’ve all heard stories of a few favorite performers getting sick minutes before walking on stage.
Fear comes bearing gifts because walking through it requires both our deepest attention and authenticity. Feeling afraid isn’t a weakness; it’s a universal experience. That’s why even small acts of courage can send ripples of inspiration out into the world.
The next time you’re anxious, remember: Whenever you unfurl your strength into its fullest expression or activate a dormant talent as you face your own fears, you encourage all of us to do the same.