Photo of a woman leaping over rocks

My heart is pumping. My stomach is churning. My throat feels tight…

…  I’m praying that my armpits haven’t made my top wet…

This is how I felt when I was 19 and at university in France.

One day we were were put in small groups to do a piece of work on Constitutional Law. “Constitutional what?” I thought.

I didn’t have a clue what that even was (seeing as we don’t have a written constitution like they do in France). I was with two French students. They seemed to understand what they were doing and I just nodded along. I didn’t understand the French. I had no clue about the content. 

And then in class the lecturer said he was going to select a group to present their answers. I felt sick. I KNEW it was going to be me. My surname was Andrews and I just knew he would start at the top of the list. BINGO! I got that bit right. 

I find it had to describe the feelings that went through my body when I stood up and he started asking me questions. I didn’t understand the question. I certainly didn’t understand the answers and I definitely couldn’t give the answer in French. 

I would like to say that I was BRAVE.

That I stood up there with self belief and an unshakeable belief that I could do it. 

I didn’t.

I crumbled. I cried (in front of the whole class). And I was so ASHAMED of my performance and inadequacy. 

So why am I telling you this today. 

Because a few decades later I believe that I am braver. In fact, I now know that I was brave then as well. 

But I have strategies to be braver these days.

Here’s what I do. 

I do a short mindfulness practice. This could be as simple as being aware of each of my senses while I wait for the kettle to boil!

I give myself a short pep talk. Something along the lines of “I can do this. This is going to go well. I can only grow from this.”

I imagine the whole event going the best it could possible go. 

I take a deep breath and I do it!

And then I congratulate myself.

So the next time you need a dose of bravery, know that you can do it. You will be a richer person. 

The sense of achievement is like no other. It’s freeing. It’s liberating.

What do you need to do to be brave today? How will you do it? 

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