On heroes and fear
This week is always a bit of a difficult one for me now. August is full of celebration in my family, and as it comes to a close, it’s met with my birthday, my mum and dad’s wedding anniversary, my cousin’s birthday, my dad’s birthday and this year, what would have been my nan’s 84th birthday.
Today, I want to write about heroes and fear. But mainly heroes.
My nan was born in 1936, and emigrated to England in 1955, at just 19-years-old. Now, given I only started feeling like an adult when I hit 30, I can’t even comprehend adulting on that level at such a tiny age.
In her eulogy, I wrote: “They say that not all heroes wear capes. This would be very true in the case of my nan, whose uniform was made up exclusively of pleated and kilt wrap skirts and tights... Instead of giving you a history lesson, I’m going to tell you about the woman that I don’t even think she knew she was: a hero. My hero.”
I’m going to pause here to say this. I don’t need the grand crescendo of the end of this letter to impress the desired RemindHer upon you: just like my nan was, you are the hero in your own life. You are everything that you so readily recognise in others. That is both the superpower and the curse of a self-doubter.
Ok, so, if you want to click out of this email now, at least you’ve already got the main takeaway. Otherwise, let’s continue.
I'd often hear my nan talk herself out of things, dismiss herself, say she was too old to do new things. And in truth, it frustrated me a lot. Because, for all the things she did in her life, she still had such an irritating and pervasive thread of self-deprecation running through her - the same that I recognise in myself, and am actively trying to get rid of.
But she had so much hope for and belief in me. She gave outwardly to her family, every bit of encouragement and re-alignment, she couldn't muster for herself. I guess, contemplating it now, she was the founding member of #RemindHers before they had a name.
I could say that I will never understand how fear clings to and encroaches on the courage of a woman who emigrated from Jamaica to the UK at just 19 years old. But I do understand. And I think most of you reading this letter will recognise it too.
It’s because we aren’t wired to see the bravery in our own lives.
I want to spend the rest of my life, learning to live as closely to the mindset of 19-year-old Noreen Emelita, who knew the real meaning of the word YOLO at that point, and lived from the heart.
Before life and its disappointments got on top of her.
Before other people's opinions deluded her.
Before fear convinced her that she was no longer brave enough or worthy enough to have the life she had envisioned, and so should settle for life within its paltry parameters.
I say all of this to conclude that we do huge, massive things in our lives and swipe them under the carpet all the time like it was no big deal. Giving those things no further praise or gravitas once they move from present to the past. But it’s exactly these things that are the building blocks of our future selves. Memories that buoy us on to the bigger and the better.
I know you have done awesome things. I know you are doing awesome things. Bring them to the fore and keep them there.
You are a walking, breathing hero. You are the one that has been there for you time and time again. It shouldn’t be the case that you wait for someone else to see that in you, and you never recognise it within yourself.
Stand in awe of yourself, because heroes needn’t only be determined and admired from an external view. It's a big word, but it does belong to you. I'm absolutely convinced of it.