Last week, my husband surprised me with tickets to the Texas A&M and LSU basketball game. It was a great time, though I'll have to be honest, one of the highlights of the night wasn't the game itself. The crowd witnessed an Aggie college student win $5,000 making a half-court shot during halftime. Everyone went wild, excited for the luck of this potentially broke college student. I couldn't help but think, "What if he hadn't taken the shot because of fear he would humiliate himself in front of a crowd (the school broke a record that night for basketball game attendance, by the way)?"
This got me thinking about my own life. Within the last year, I've had several people comment on how brave I am for trying new things, talking to complete strangers, going somewhere like a movie or a meal out by myself. What's funny to me is that I know these people must think I have confidence just oozing out of my ears. It's actually the exact opposite. It's fear that drives my bravery.
When I was a junior in high school, I remember being in my first "real" boyfriend's truck (first kiss makes him a "real" one, right?) when we were discussing my plans for after graduation. He was a senior, a year ahead of me, and I was always a bit intimidated by that at the time. I told him that upon acceptance, I was planning to attend TROY University, a university in Alabama five and a half hours from my small, very rural Florida hometown. I remember him laughing, telling me I would never go to school so far from home. It wasn't that he didn't think I was smart or that I could afford to go to college in another state, it was that he simply didn't think I had it in me to move so far from home. I would be too scared.
We broke up not long after. And I'm not ashamed to say I was the one who got the boot. Him soon going to the college about 45 minutes away, and me being in high school still for another year was just "too different." I also think that me having the ability to keep my panties on through that relationship probably didn't help my odds of getting broken up with, too (haha!). I don't have any resentment towards the guy. In fact, I should thank him. His inability to see my inner strength and bravery is partly responsible for the person I have become today. And it also helped me realize not to be anyone but myself in a relationship..."Full Torie" as my mom calls it...because why waste time with someone who doesn't appreciate the real you?
Back on topic...I went on to TROY University for four of the best years of my life. I made life-long friends and received a great education. Sure, I was scared the first couple of weeks not knowing anyone, but I quickly learned the only way to enjoy my time was to get outside of my comfort zone and kick my own fear's butt. To force bravery on myself.
To this day, I still have moments when I'm afraid (For the record, I will never trump my fear of mice, snakes, roaches and flying squirrels, and I'm okay with that). Scared I won't be accepted in a group (even at this age of life women can be so dang mean sometimes!), scared my strange sense of humor will bring on an awkward silence when I'm meeting folks for the first time, scared I'll hit a wrong note in choir practice and people will wonder, "Who invited her?" During these times, I reflect back on the friendships I've made and the great experiences I've had simply from "taking the shot" when I knew the outcome could be one not so great. I can't say I've won $5,000, but the people I've met and memories made were well worth my stage fright.