I had the wonderful privilege of speaking at an event for a great entity called Lumi last week. The theme was courage and I went into the night pondering what it truly meant to be ‘courageous’. Society will tell us that to be courageous, is about being brave, having the strength to overcome all the odds, despite of the circumstance in which they came into being. To be fair, I was having a truly awful day that day and remembered thinking, as I walked into the venue, ‘swallow those emotions, stand up straight, portray to the world that all is well and that you have overcome’.
As the night went on, and I listened to the stories of the other panellists, something struck me which was as heartbreaking as it is poignant; having strength isn’t about putting on a brave face. It isn’t about pretending that the life lesson one has just endured has elevated us to a place of complete zen and enlightenment. Being courageous is about being vulnerable, it’s about opening up and sharing your story in the hope that all of the gut-wrenching, soul crushing heartache occurred for something; something beyond your own pain. We often live in the realm of problem and answer and forget that the most important lessons to be learnt, are those about ourselves and our journeys.
What I took out of that event, more than anything else was a spirit of sisterhood. Lumi, through its vision and dedication had managed to create a safe space where women, just like you and me no longer felt the need to put on a façade about how the battles of life had made them into soldiers. No longer was there a desire to pin courage on bravado or falsities about being a perfectly functioning human being. One who never breaks down when that opportunity goes begging or crawls into the foetal position when that relationship ends. There, on a beautiful Melbourne night, with a group of individual, unique and thoroughly brave women, I learnt what it was to be courageous; and it was far from what I had initially envisioned.