Musings on Auld Lang Syne: Being Brave

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a long time now, but sometimes only being pushed  down makes you go back to what you love to do. After what felt like an interminable week, I felt the need to write this post as soon as I got a moment to breathe (post a nap of course. Naps are true love). 

This isn’t something I share, mostly because it has literally nothing to do with anything, but my name, Simran, means ‘remembering God.’ My younger self found this almost hilarious, considering I stayed as far away from religion, rituals and praying as I could. As I grew older, however, I found myself turning to remembrance more and more. Not remembering God, precisely, but remembering good times, family, friends, old family histories and drawing strength and lessons from them. And more and more, I found that the qualities I valued most from these memories were bravery and gumption. And for a Ravenclaw/Slytherin, that’s a pretty big change of heart.

I’ve needed those qualities in ever-increasing quantities in the last year, and especially in the last week. I have a feeling this need will probably climb its way higher in the next few years. In my initial draft of this post, months ago, I compiled a list of experiences that had made me brave, and without which, I couldn’t have been the person that I am. And I’m not publishing it anymore, (though I will say that one bullet point was “I baked ~fancy~ bread for the first time in ten years of baking”) but looking at that list today makes me realize how much doing those things and yes, writing them out on paper, helped me take greater risks since then. Some have worked out, some have not. In fact, I can say with certainty that this week was filled with more rejections than acceptances.  It took some time, a few wonderful friends (you know who are, guys) and a lot of perspective to make me understand the wins and losses I’d had. Towards the end, after reflecting on what I’d been trying to achieve and why I’d failed, I began to realize that I was holding myself up to lofty goals. I just needed to grow a little more to reach them (Seriously, 5’7’’ is a joke in this day and age). 

Cakes are my actual goals.

Cakes are my actual goals.

In my senior year at university, I was writing exams, applications, cover letters, left, right and center. It was a hectic time and at one point, I rebelled. I refused to write any exams post May 2018. I remember telling my father that it was no use, since I wasn’t bound to excel in this one particular exam anyway; competition was high. And he said something which stuck with me: “Never be afraid of failure. If you’ve never failed, you’ve never tried.” 

It’s something I still hold on to. Of course, it wasn’t the first time I’d heard this. I’d heard versions of this on every inspirational board, on Instagram posts, everything. But it struck me concretely for the first time that I may have been genuinely afraid of failing. I refused to give up on projects until they succeeded at the level I had set. I studied until I had utterly exhausted myself. 

Hearing that setting goals too high for your present self to achieve was necessary for success wasn’t entirely new to me. Hearing that it was alright to fail at them was. At one point, it doesn’t matter how much you try, the control lies with somebody else. And learning that required my biggest dose of courage. Creating when the end result is out of your control is hard and when you have only 24 hours in a day, it’s all too easy to focus on the areas you know you’ll succeed at. It takes bravery to continue to push yourself in those 24 hours, despite all the teeny tiny problems nipping at your heels everyday. Waking up, working out, drinking eight glasses of water a day, dressing for work in a way that shows your professionalism but doesn’t make you look boring…and the list goes on.

I’ve been writing and rewriting this paragraph for a week now, trying to show my Big Movement to Something Brave. But whenever I try to write one, I find I can’t, because I feel like I’m not done. I haven’t taken and accomplished that “biggest leap of all” and I feel like I’m still learning. So instead, I’m going to talk about what my small steps have been.

Journalling stopped working for me as an emotional outlet, so now I try to draw one comic a day. I’m on #10 right now. They’re god awful, but they feel extremely good.

Writing is great, but I also realized I love seeing the concrete effects of what words can do. So I code now. I use JavaScript and Python for applications and R and SAS to explore a bunch of datasets and see what I can come up with.

Photoshoot - BTS!

Photoshoot - BTS!

And yay! In accordance with one of my 21 goals for 21, I’ve also been volunteering more. In fact, I have three hours scheduled tomorrow at a music program. 

Most of my friends have highly varying inspirations that allow them to be brave. One is inspired by adding to the sum of good in the world. Another thrives off a sense of exceeding expectations. A third believes in the Disney dream, of building the impossible, just because.

What are your sources for inspiration and for bravery? Does it come easily to you? Let me know!