Courage is a Special Kind of Strength

“Without fear you can’t have courage. Courage only happens when you overcome something that scares you.”

~Gabriela Pereira,

This year, my daughter’s teacher insists that students list an antonym for every vocabulary word assigned. As an English instructor myself, I have found the concept awkward and frustrating, as there are many nouns (in particular) which don’t have antonyms. So needless to say, we’ve had to get creative with her vocabulary assignments.

When I asked my daughter, “What is the antonym for ‘strong?” she immediately replied, “Weak.” But I suggested a new one: fear. (Let her teacher figure that one out!)

Scientists tell us that fear is good for us, creating a “fight or flight” response to protect us and keep us alive in threatening situations. But for many, acting on fear from the default “flight” mode has created a culture afraid to take risks or think outside the box. In its worst form, fear has created a world of scared, timid victims of life’s greatest and most rewarding challenges.

Courage is needed to meet and overcome those challenges backed by fear that comes from doubt, resistance, self-consciousness, or rejection. Just as much courage is needed to face a final exam in your mathematics class, as to play against your biggest soccer rivals in the league, as to square off against a would-be attacker or bully in a parking lot.

Courage is that special kind of mental strength that happens when you overcome fear and act anyway.