One of my favorite parts of my job is managing our giving program. I'm the type of person whose heart breaks with every sad story she hears and who wants to take home every stray dog she sees. So I feel like I'm helping the world just a little when I encourage others to give back.
This month I've been promoting Special Olympics (Georgia). While designing collateral material ,a scene from The Loretta Claiborne Story flashed through my head; it's one of those movies teachers show to keep you busy while they catch up on grading or writing their next research paper or something. In the scene we hear Loretta's internal voice quoting the Special Olympics motto.
Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.
Let me be brave. Gosh that was such a mind blowing concept for me. As if bravery alone was enough. I grew up in a home where excellence was expected. I remember receiving more criticism when I came home with Bs than praise when I came home with As. Once at a pageant I swept all the final awards categories before winning the crown but rather than feel proud I felt relieved.
The internal pressure for perfection was overwhelming.
I could never consider being brave as enough. Winning was what mattered. So I only tried things I knew I would excel at; until I didn't. I signed up for a fashion illustration course at a local art and design college. I was hands down the worst in our cohort but I loved it. I signed up for guitar lessons and stumbled through while peers half my age corrected my finger placement. There are few memories I cherish more than that (blisters and all).
The Special Olympics motto reminds me that we all need a healthy dose of bravery to live a life that matters. We need it to make genuine connections with people. We need it to have stories to tell. We need it to stand up for what we believe in. All that sounds a whole lot better than winning. Sometimes I still feel fear creep up and think "hmm, maybe I should just stay here where it's safe" but then I remember I want to be brave.