I am going to share with you my secret shame. It is secret because it will reveal that I am an even bigger dork than you already suspected. I know that hardly seems possible, but bear with me:
I would never have gotten Sorted into Gryffindor.
The secret part comes in because I'm forty-four years old and I've actually spent time thinking seriously about which House I would have been in.1 The shame? Is that I'm such an absolute chicken.
The upside of being a Nervous Girl is that it has, by and large, kept me safe. I never dated Bad Boys. Well, okay, once, but he dumped me--shocker. I never rode motorcycles, smoked, walked alone after dark. One time, in high school, the mother of a guy I liked called my house late at night because he wasn't home and she wondered if we had snuck out together (in defiance of my father's rules? Not bloody likely). My aunt actually laughed in the woman's ear from the absurdity of it. Then she went to check my bed. Where I was sound asleep, safe as houses. Of course.
The downside is, apparently, that nothing great is ever achieved from a place of safety. This is what I'm reading in a book called The Flinch.2 I'm only about a quarter of the way through, so I can't provide much of a review, but the premise is this: we have this reflex of flinching before danger, like attacking bears, which keeps us safe. Although life is not as dangerous now as it was when the reflex evolved, we still have it. And it keeps us from taking risks or doing things that make us uncomfortable. And taking risks, risking discomfort, is where your best stuff comes from. I read somewhere else recently that courage doesn't before you do the thing you're scared of; it comes FROM doing it.
The book prescribes exercises, too (because otherwise, you're just reading about taking risks--unhelpful). The first one is to step into an ice cold shower, which I did this morning. My sadistic supportive husband wanted to stay and watch me do this. Probably this would have increased the discomfort factor, and thus would have been helpful, but I chased him out of the bathroom. He stood outside and listened to me yelp, anyway. It felt so unbearably cold that I started to turn up the heat. Then I turned it right back down and finished the shower. It turned out to be not so bad; kind of invigorating, actually. Tomorrow I'm going to try it again without turning up the heat, even temporarily.
Do you consider yourself courageous? If yes, what do you think made you that way? If not, what do you think it would take to change that? What's the biggest risk you've ever taken, and how did it turn out?
1 On the bright side, I'm definitely a Ravenclaw, and they have a pretty cool Common Room.
2 The book is a free download on Amazon right now, which, ironically, makes it a risk-free purchase.