Bravery or Stupidity Facing Unpleasant Consequences?

This week we are suppose to talk about a time when we acted bravely, but were really scared inside.  (Unless I looked at the wrong week, and then…oh well.)  I am completely, and totally drawing a blank on this one.  I’ve gone for a walk to help me think clearly.  Nope, didn’t work.  I kept wondering if you could have above 100% humidity because it sure as heck felt like it.  But still, no brave acts came to mind.

Now I have been nervous/scared too many times to count because that has usually been in the form of an audition or pitch in which case the thought process goes something like this.  “You’ve prepared for this.  You’re ready.  If they don’t pick you/ask for the full manuscript, that’s their problem.  You’ve done your best, so SUCK IT UP AND DEAL WITH IT!”   Then I usually march in, unless marching is frowned upon, and do my thing.

But what if I wasn’t prepared?  What if I was about to embarrass the living crap out of myself because I had no clue as to what I was doing or hadn’t practiced?  The thought process then goes more like this…”You suck.  You know that, right?  You totally should have practiced.  You’ve already paid the entry fee, so you already committed yourself to this and if you quit now without even trying, you’ll be an even bigger loser than if you go in and stink up the place with your lousy performance, so SUCK IT UP AND DEAL WITH IT!”

Yeah, ultimately, my inner dialogue is not kind to me either way.

This one time, in junior high band….:-)  No, really, it was junior high band.  I hated practicing my clarinet and for some stupid reason, I signed up to do a solo for our annual district solo and ensemble contest.  Probably because we’d get a medal if we got a superior or excellent rating.  (I’m a medal and trophy junkie.  Always have been.  I’ve signed up for marathons and half marathons simply because of that addiction.)  I had also signed up for a baton twirling solo.  THAT solo, I had practiced to near perfection.  The clarinet solo?  The only time I recall that I practiced was with my band director who had to be my piano accompanist.  She kindly suggested that I spend some more time practicing my music.  I smiled and nodded because I liked Mrs. Legare and didn’t want to disappoint her.  And really, I intended to practice.  For real.  But the baton solo was so much more fun.  Let’s face it, practicing something you’re already good at IS more fun.  So I went in for my clarinet solo along with all the other clarinet players from my school for whom Mrs. Legare was also accompanying.  Several of those other clarinet players were also my fellow majorettes for the school.  Apparently, they found the time to practice BOTH their baton routines and their clarinet pieces.  I could tell you how much more difficult my twirling solo was than theirs (very much true) and needed to spend the extra practice time on it (not necessarily), but the point was I got up to do my clarinet solo even though it would have been soooo much easier to walk out of that room.

So I played that solo.  And boy did I ever SUCK!  It was awful.  And Mrs. Legare knew it too.  God bless that woman, she kept playing, trying to adjust to my awful playing.  I’m sure we were both thankful when I finished.  As was the judge who had to critique that awful racket.  Mrs. Legare was smart enough and KIND enough to recognize how much I was embarrassed and chose not to say anything to me afterwards and I am eternally grateful for that.

I can’t say that my little story exactly counts as bravery in my mind.  It was really more of a source of facing the consequences.  And as far as acting brave goes, I’m a horrible actress.  In some weird way, acting is a form of lying in my brain, and I don’t lie.  I believe karma will kick my butt in a heartbeat if I lie, so I have never really been good at acting.  Mustering up confidence to face a challenge might count as bravery to some, but for me, bravery is a much higher level.  Firemen rushing into burning buildings are brave.  Policemen facing gunfire are brave.  Military folks are brave.  Me going forth with an unpracticed clarinet solo is just stupidity facing unpleasant consequences.

What qualifies as bravery to you and have you been brave?

About Micki Gibson

Young Adult fiction writer
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8 Responses to Bravery or Stupidity Facing Unpleasant Consequences?

  1. jeff7salter says:

    I think it’s incredibly brave to perform a clarinet solo when you had not found time to practice. And I would never be that courageous.
    I very briefly took guitar lessons (mid 1960s). I was never any good and didn’t practice much at all. My problem — or at least the way I rationalized it — was that I wanted to learn how to play COOL songs, like they had on the radio. Not stupid tunes like “Camptown Races”.

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    • Micki Gibson says:

      Oh, it wasn’t a matter of not finding the time. I didn’t make the time to practice my clarinet. In this day and age, it would have been me feeling like I needed to set a new high score on whatever addictive cutesy video game more than practicing the clarinet. It’s possible my mom may have been involved in the “suck it up and deal with it.” Probably more like a “we paid the entry fee, so you’re doing it.”

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  2. Then,Micki, my dear, if you have done all that in competition, you must be THE MOST SELF-ASSURED PERSON I KNOW! Seriously? You have gone into all of those other competitions without trepidation?
    And I forgot to mention this to Janette,(who also said that she never felt brave), you are both mothers! Surely some things have happened that you had to face up to even when you did not want to.(I’m thinking medical emergency or bugs, here!)
    And if you went into all that competition so confidently,I am going to take you to task for doubting your writing ability! Show the world your talent!
    You are brave ,Lady!

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    • Micki Gibson says:

      When it comes to medical stuff and the kids, I take my cue from my husband. I worry that I don’t freak out enough because he’s so calm. Plus he’s got the medical expertise, so unless he panics, I see no need to. It’s kind of an “ignorance is bliss” thing. Still, when it comes to my personal definition of bravery, I don’t feel very brave about anything I’ve done. Perhaps it’s knowing the choices I made that brought me to that point that others would view me as “brave” whereas I see it as simply facing a challenge that I must meet in order to achieve X or to avoiding dealing with Y. Make sense? The one good thing that came out of that disastrous clarinet solo is that I know that I can totally screw up a performance (or a pitch opportunity), but that I will survive, that there is likely another chance to prove my worthiness, and that it’s not a life or death situation. And I think therein lies the biggest difference in my definition of my confidence versus my bravery. It’s that whole DEATH thing.

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  3. pjharjo says:

    I guess I’m with you, Micki, on what I qualify as “bravery.” Our military troops, Firemen, Policemen, etc. Tonette brought some things back to my mind when she mentioned moms as “brave.” Both my sons being overseas in the Middle East at the same time, the day my oldest boy came in from skiing with a messed up face, the day my little girl did not arrive home from school when supposed to… but I consider all that stuff as the cost of being a mother, not as brave on my part.

    I don’t really think I qualify as “brave.” Like you, things I’ve done seem more like consequences than bravery.

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    • Micki Gibson says:

      Agreed, Jeanette. It’s the “dealing with it” when you really weren’t given a choice doesn’t feel like bravery to me. It’s doing what you have to do, like it or not. Kind of like me not wanting to deal with dinner right now. It’s not me being brave so much as not wanting to deal with the consequences of a grumpy family if I don’t fix dinner. 🙂

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  4. Iris B says:

    As mentioned in one of the other posts …. brave is the hero-like actions like firemen or police …. but we can’t all be firemen and police officer, so I suppose little things are brave as well. So I agree, performing a clarinet solo is kinda brave … I’d’ve fainted 🙂

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