Around five years ago, I made a New Year’s resolution: Be More Brave. I didn’t normally make resolutions, but something had shifted within me. I wanted to see what was possible.
I started in small ways: I wrote more and shared it with people, a habit I’d fallen out of for some time. Then, I started doing more writing online, reviews and personal essays, and I found that the more difficult something was to write, the more enthusiastically it was received. It felt good. But still, writing was something I’d always enjoyed and had skill with. What more could I do?
Reading it aloud, in front of an audience. Friends, the first time I read some of my fiction at a literary reading, I wanted to throw up. I lamented that we were in a booze-less coffee shop, and I was so unused to hearing my own voice over a microphone. Still, I did it, and then I did it again. And again.
This resolution wasn’t just for the year; it was now a life practice.
Recently, I started participating in poetry slams. I’m not really much of a poetry writer. Slams allow me to be more informal about it, to treat it as a monologue with rhythm. Surprisingly, I did well. I didn’t win the whole thing, but I was well-received, and I found that I didn’t feel very nervous at all.
What more could I do?
My husband has always told me that I can sing, and that I sound much better than I think I do. I’d been on stage as part of a musical’s chorus, but apart from one effort at karaoke, I’d never really sung alone. I needed to be brave. If reading aloud had become easy, then singing was next.
Last week, after some rehearsal, I sang a song at an open mic, with a talented friend of mine playing guitar. Oh, I was good and liquored up, but apparently, I did all right. The audience was receptive (though it helps that my friend is a quite popular local musician) and I received compliments. Maybe they were bullshitting me, but maybe they weren’t. The point is, I did it.
And I want to do it again. I want to be able to do it without a bunch of gin down my gullet. Bring on the bravery.
So tell me, what have you done lately (or ever!) that’s been brave? What do you want to do?