Just 20 Seconds

“You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”

Benjamin Mee, We Bought a Zoo

Ever since I saw We Bought a Zoo many years ago, I have always thought that the type of courage the main character, Benjamin Mee,  exhibits was impossible. Not long after his wife dies, he moves himself and his two children to a run-down zoo with the intent of opening it up to the public once again. They overcome many challenges with the opening of the zoo and with rebuilding their family.

The quote above is something I’ve recently been trying to implement. I can be very outgoing at times, but there are other times when I’m afraid of being embarrassed. Whenever I feel that I could be embarrassed, I tend to procrastinate. When I was looking at colleges, I did not really know what to expect. It was a whole new world that I had no prior experience in. I did not know what questions I should ask or where I should be looking. On my first few college tours, I was afraid of asking a question and sounding uninformed in comparison to the other students. Eventually I found the courage to ask the tour guides questions and participate more actively in the conversations. Similarly when I got to college, I was a bit reserved when it came to meeting new people. I had the same friends for most of my life at home. Making a strong network of friends seemed incredibly daunting. I reached out to some people, but I was afraid of coming off as “clingy,” and I was afraid of what others may think of me. Looking back, I had no reason to feel that way. Every freshmen in college is in a new environment with a new people. I should not be worried with how everybody perceives me. The things I might be insecure about are things that most likely go unnoticed by many. I may have been able to find my college friends a lot sooner had I been willing to be more courageous.

If you are anything like me and like to anticipate any and all consequences of an action, you’ll know that the notion of 20 seconds of bravery is nerve-racking. How are we sure that those 20 seconds will pay off in the end? Sometimes we have to take that leap of faith and hope that it works out. I like to believe that everything happens for a reason, whether that be positive or negative. I have been trying to find moments each day that I can exercise 20 seconds of courage, whether they are big or small.

Trying to be more courageous has made me a lot happier in my day to day life. Being nervous about possible consequences inhibits us to live happily. Even if I’m not being courageous in that moment, I know that I will be happier once I find another 20 seconds. Living cautiously is important in order to stay safe, but we cannot constantly live in a bubble. We need to take risks that could have big payoffs. Although we don’t always know what will happen, there will be a consequence, positive or negative, that can teach us something about life or something about ourselves.

Find 20 seconds when you can step out of your bubble, and take  a chance. Don’t underestimate what you can do.

Monica

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