Being Brave in the Middle Ground

I was talking to a friend recently, trying to figure out what appeared to be a contradiction in my behavior. But then I hit upon an interesting idea.  “I think I just hate the middle ground, you know? The uncertainty, the ‘this might happen, but I don’t really know.’ It just makes me uncomfortable.” And as I’ve thought about it more, I realize how true that is for me.

I know people who are getting “You should hear good things from us soon” messages from colleges, and I think, I would rather wait a week or two to hear a solid Yes or No than get that weird half-commitment. What if they change their mind? Why don’t they want to tell me they’ve accepted me now?  College, I don’t understand! For those of you in that boat, don’t listen to my irrational thoughts about that. They don’t make sense. Just be excited about college. So I recognize I have a problem with this, the middle ground.

But you know, the basic fear is not completely irrational. The middle ground is a scary place to be. There’s potential for all of your hopes to come true (whether that’s for getting something wonderful or avoiding something terrible), and there’s also potential for so much disappointment.

I might get into my dream school, I might not pass this class, that person might feel the same way about me, I might get the part, I might have this disease, I might get the job…

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Sometimes life feels like this…

When you’re in the middle ground, you are vulnerable. That’s just what it means to be there.

Especially when you tell people. I think that’s one of the things I hate the most. I can deal with my own disappointment, but I don’t want other people to be disappointed for me. Or maybe I just don’t want people to see me fail (because apparently being disappointed means failing in my mind…).

And oftentimes it is much easier to see how everything could go wrong. I know I do that. It’s easier to just prepare yourself for the worst so that it’s not more painful later.

And that works sometimes; it’s even healthy. Life is disappointing. Not all of your dreams come true. And it’s good to know that. But it’s also good to take risks. And I feel very hypocritical saying that, because too often, I just stay in my comfort zone. I say Nope! Life is scary and painful, and this right here is comfortable, and comfortable is good. 

I take risks, but I don’t take every risk. I’ll take a risk if I feel like it’s necessary for me to be a decent person. Because even if I cannot be brave, I will always try to be good (that’s why I’m pretty sure I’m a Hufflepuff and definitely not a Gryffindor). I’ll take a risk, venturing out into the middle ground, and then I’ll run back to my comfort zone. And I’m not proud of that by any means.

But I’m working on it. And that’s okay. I don’t know if there’s much more to do than keep trying. So I guess that’s my step towards the middle ground. By saying that I struggle with it. I might get better at being brave. I might not. We’ll see.

Heart, not Nerves

Hey guys! It’s been forever; I know. I’ve been really busy, but I’m finally on vacation! Yay! That doesn’t mean I’ll be posting a lot though; I don’t have access to a computer as much as I normally would. But I shall try. And vacation is good for more than just giving me free time; it inspired me, too. Or rather, my cousin’s poster inspired me. So, from there, I shall start the meat of my post.

You all know The Hunger Games, right? Of course you do. (If you don’t or haven’t finished it, I would recommend not reading this; there are a few spoilers.) Now, I know a lot of people have differing opinions on the value of the series as a whole, but I feel it does have thematic significance. However, I’m not talking about the whole this is what our society values thing, though that is partially true (on a much smaller scale than the Hunger Games). No, I am speaking of something that I feel gets lost amid the lights and colors of the Capitol, the trials of the Games, and the excitement of the series as a whole. I am speaking of the four words that make the whole story possible: I volunteer as tribute.

I was watching the first movie one night with my family, but my younger sister was at a friend’s house. And when it came time for the Reaping, I couldn’t help but think, what if that was me and Tara? What if she was called to do this tremendous ordeal that, odds are, would lead to her death? And it was an awful thought; I almost started crying right then and there. And the obvious question then is, would I have the courage do what Katniss did? And while I cannot fully simulate the circumstances under which Katniss made her decision, I think I can say that I would. I hope I would.

You see, it has long been my opinion that bravery is not based on nerves or daring at all. Maybe a little, but it is not the main factor. No, bravery, true courage, is based on love. Why else would Harry go in the Forbidden Forest to meet his doom? Why else would Merry and Pippin and all the others fight a battle they would surely lose if Frodo and Sam failed? Why else would anybody do anything that involves risking their own neck for someone else’s? Love. They do it because they have something driving them, something to keep them going even when their brain tells them that what they are doing is stupid beyond anything they could ever do. It’s love. Not the cheesy, half-hearted love that displays itself on cheap Valentine’s Day cards. That love would have run home squealing for its mommy a long time ago. This is true, steadfast love that considers others more important than itself. And it’s a rare thing to see these days.

Prim and Katniss

picture taken from Google. I don’t own any of the rights, so don’t eat me for plagiarizing.

Let me take us back to Katniss. What makes her truly unique among the tributes is that time and time again, she displays this self-sacrificing love, both in and out of the Games. The other tributes team up merely to protect their backs for a while, knowing the whole time that it is a temporary alliance. Katniss, on the other hand, truly cares about her partners and doesn’t view them as pawns. When Rue dies, Katniss gives her a beautiful memorial. Don’t waste your time, Katniss, we cry, echoing the voice of reason. It’s too dangerous. But she doesn’t care. She loved Rue as she loved Prim, and she wanted to honor the girl’s memory. And again, when Katniss teams up with Peeta, it’s not a shallow alliance to serve herself. Katniss nurses him back to health, an act detrimental to her own survival. And while swallowing the berries was largely a symbolic act to the Capitol, it was also an act displaying her incredible love for Peeta. No other tribute did that.

Courage comes from love. Courage may not always come from love for a person; sometimes, it’s a love for an ideal, a belief in goodness. But one thing is for sure, courage is a thing of the heart, not the nerves.

Hope you enjoyed that,

Epylle Spydre