Theodore Roosevelt has long been a hero of mine. But it wasn’t until recently that I discovered this quote. Over the years I have heard it in bits and pieces, but have never known the true power of the words until I heard Dr. Brené Brown speak on Super Soul Sunday. The title of her latest book, Daring Greatly, comes from this quote.
My intent, however, is not to rehash her book, it is to question my own absence from the arena. For the longest time I have stood by and watched others live the life they dream. I have questioned their choices, given advice (whether is was solicited or not), and made judgements. I would do this with family, friends, strangers, it didn’t matter. All the while I comfortably stood outside of the arena, never stepping in.
Growing up the only thing I ever wanted was to be on stage. I dreamed of being on Broadway. Singing and wowing audiences with my voice (let’s not even get started on the ego involved here). I would audition, even though I was petrified of failure. I spent most of my high school years living inside my local theatre. When it was time for college I auditioned and was accepted to several colleges for musical theatre. My dream school; NYU accepted me. But, fear of debt and ultimate failure kept me from going. I wound up in a wonderful program at a small school in North Carolina, Catawba College. I auditioned, performed in shows, won accolades, trained and rehearsed. After two years it was no longer financially feasible to attend. I transferred to Florida State University and stepped out of the musical theatre arena permanently. To this day it is my greatest regret.
My latest passion has been writing. Full disclosure: I’d love to find a way to do it as my full time job. But, I do not dare step into that arena. How could I? I have bills, I have debt, I have a house. What would people think? What would they say about this decision? How could I really earn a living at writing? So, I stay on the outside of the arena. Convinced of failure but never fully investing in a new and daring dream.
I do not dare greatly. I do not stand proud with a face caked in dust and sweat and blood. I am not a man Theodore Roosevelt, my hero, would be proud of.
The day has come to step into the arena. I will screw my courage to the sticking place. I will brave the ridicule and judgement, whether it’s from others or from my own inner critic. No longer can I stand on the outside looking in. I must launch myself into the arena and find my happiness, live my passion, and fulfill my dreams.
Take my hand and step into the arena with me. We can go together. Courage is greater when we have each other to depend on. Join me here.