The Second Key to Living an Unconventional Life: Being Brave

Brave superhero 2

This is part 2 in a series of posts. Check out part 1 here – I’ll also update this with the link to part 3 when it’s published.


Still thinking about how to live an unconventional life? Me too! The way I see it, there are three keys to the unconventional life – the first one is adventure, which I wrote about in part 1 of this series. It doesn’t always need to be epic – just a way of incorporating new experiences into your life, both in an everyday way, and on a grander, big-picture scale.


But adventure may not always come naturally to us – some people find it much easier to stay in their routines and stick with the safe path.


After all, adventure involves uncertainty and risk and unknown outcomes. Why take a risk on a negative outcome when you can just play it safe and stick to what you know?


I know this mindset all too well, because that’s how I’m personally wired to think. I avoid risk, stick to known facts and statistical probabilities, and play it safe.


Or at least I used to.


But I’ve learned how to incorporate adventure into my life more and more by using…


The Second Key to an Unconventional Live: Being Brave


brave  /brāv/


1. ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage

2. the ability to do that which frightens one

Of course, I’ve written about the idea of being brave once or twice. ;) It IS right there in the name of my site, after all.


Despite what a lot of people think, being brave has nothing to do with being fearless – actually, the only way to be brave is to be frightened of something, because being brave means doing that which scares you.


And what scares people can be just about anything.


Fears are intensely personal and unique to the individual. What gets one person’s heart pounding and knees knocking may be something others consider ridiculously easy, like making a phone call or leaving the house. For some, their fear could be giving a speech, taking a class, or starting a blog.


The bravery of a person’s action is not measured by the size of the act, but by the degree of fear they feel. {Tweet this!}
Singing in front of a couple hundred people is something that many people would be terrified to do. In fact, that used to be the case for me. When I first started out as a church cantor (a singer who leads the congregation in song), my knees shook, I couldn’t breathe, and I sweated – week after week. Every. Damn. Time.


It totally freaked me out to be up there, singing into a microphone in a vast and quiet church, in front of so many people. And frankly, I didn’t even want to do it, but our singing group had lost its cantor and we had no one else willing to step forward and fill that spot – no one brave enough to do it.


So I took a deep breath – ok, a WHOLE LOT of deep breaths! – and I did it.


It truly was an act of bravery, because believe me, I was scared. And it continued to be an act of bravery every time for the whole first year that I cantored, because I was scared every time!


Now, after four years, it’s become second nature to me and I don’t even think about it unless I’m performing a difficult solo, but it really did take a full year to get past that fear.


The Snowball Effect

That’s the way it is with bravery – when we confront our fears, over and over, we naturally become less scared of them. It’s an amazing feeling to conquer a fear – I love the fact that I don’t shake anymore when I sing at church!


But there’s also an awesome spillover into the other areas of fear in your life, too – not only has it gotten easier for me to sing in other scenarios, such as for weddings or at recitals, but knowing that I’ve mastered one big fear gives me the strength to take on other, unrelated ones. Being brave in ways big and small starts a snowball effect that allows me to live bravely every day, ingraining the habit into my way daily way of life.


Basically, I just tell myself, if I could do THAT scary thing, then I can totally do THIS one, too.


If I can sing in front of 200 people every weekend, then of course I can sing in front of 500 at a mass led by the archbishop.


If I can tell my boss that I’m quitting after seven years, I can absolutely tell the world that I’ve taken that crazy leap into the unknown.


If I can travel across the country to join 3,000 strangers seeking to live lives of non-conformity, I can totally approach some of them, strike up a conversation, and trade information. (Yes, networking scares me!)


And if I can quit my job and strike out on my own, there should be no question that I can keep making that choice every single day to stick with it, keep plugging away, and keep striving to build something that will enable me to live the life that I’m dreaming of.


In short, if an unconventional life is one infused with adventure – with uncertainty, with hazards, with risk – then it follows that we may get scared from time to time.


So in order to live an unconventional life, we must commit not to being fearless, but rather to being brave – to feeling the fear, standing tall, and tackling it head-on.


When you think about it, most people aren’t all that brave on a daily basis. We all tend to avoid things we fear – it’s only natural. So it makes perfect sense that an unconventional life would involve just the opposite – confronting and overcoming the things that scare us most.


Adventure and being brave really do go hand-in-hand as the first two keys to living an unconventional life. The third key, creativity, will be the topic of part 3 in this series.


In the meantime, what about you? What are you scared of, and how do you get past that fear? How do you incorporate being brave into your daily life? What’s the biggest fear you’ve overcome, or are working to overcome? Scroll down and share your thoughts in the comments below!



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  1. Amy Simpkins

    Love this. Totally agree. I had one of those “Be brave” moments last week. I’ve been creating a lot of my own content in the dark, and I have had some opportunities to share it, publicize it, put it out there, but i’m rather terrified about it. Luckily, there was an inner voice in my head screaming, “just do it! Just ship it! Just do it do it do it before you lose your nerve!” And you know what? Just sending it out to people in spite of my fear really helped. I lived another day. No one wrote back to tell me my stuff was crap. Mostly a lot of people ignored it. But some wrote to say they loved it.

    When assessing risk, I think we have a tendency to strongly (and unfairly) discount opportunity. We are so terrified of losing something if we fail that we forget the powerful upsides if we succeed.

    Brava! Looking forward to Part 3!

    1. Jenn

      Thanks, Amy!! It’s like you’re inside my head, I know that “just do it!” voice all too well!! Sometimes it strikes me as kind of hilarious, actually – the only thing standing in my way of doing something is simply ME NOT DOING IT. Ridiculous! :) Reminding myself of that and telling myself, “For God’s sake, just f***ing DO IT!!!” sometimes works wonders. (Yes, I curse at myself. Tough love.) :) Thanks for reading and commenting! And part 3 is coming shortly…

  2. Nicole

    This post was great and totally resonated with me! As a kid, I was ridiculously brave….talking to strangers, joining the Native American dancers at our state fair, etc. Then, as I got “older” (high school and college) performance anxiety settled in…I STILL wonder how I (literally) survived my Senior Voice Recital in college! As I started my professional career, I had to hold staff meetings and talk in front of people an holy quacamole, my whole body got HOT my face turned BRIGHT RED…it was awful, awful, awful! THEN, I found something that has become my PASSION and I KNEW, just KNEW that I was willing to be brave in order to share this passion with others. And it’s been an incredible journey for the past 3 years! I don’t get hot and don’t get red and people actually give me tons of positive feedback about my presentation skills! You’re right, it is hilarious that often what keeps us held back….is us! I will start puttng your menta mantra in my head from this moment on to keep me propelling forward (since there is a LOT I want to do with my passion that I’ve procrastinaed on)….”JUST F—ING DO IT!!!!” Thanks for another great post!

    1. Jenn

      So glad you found that thing that makes you light up and that you’re meant to share with others!! :) No go f—ing do it! ;)

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