courage vs. fearlessness

if snow and crocuses can co-exist, why can't fear and courage?

In early July, there was a question I got a lot: “Are you nervous?” and I always answered, “No! I’m only excited.” I had a lot of confidence in my own abilities then, and even felt invincible. I was so sure of my own abilities that I couldn’t imagine anything going differently than I had planned. As it turned out, I should have been a lot more nervous then. I didn’t really know what to be scared of because it was an entirely new experience, which meant that I was fearless. Fearlessness can be powerful, but through all my scary experiences, including panic attacks, going home, and the subsequent experience of finding my way back to the mission, I found a tool that was even better: courage.

Fearlessness came before I had seen anything to be afraid of, when I was a little more naive and a little less wise. I thought I could do anything and didn’t see any threats. On the other hand, I have developed courage in the wake of seeing the fears that I didn’t even think of come to pass. When I received confirmation that I was returning, I felt terrified until I realized that I have seen and survived my own worst case scenario. I know what it looks like for the mission to be a disaster, and I know that I have the power to survive a disaster like that. Whereas before I was confident that nothing would go wrong, now I am confident that many things will go wrong and that I will be able to thrive despite or even because of the many trials and mishaps that I now realize are part of the mission experience.

I guess it’s better to be fearless than to be fearful, but I have found the most power in being able to recognize both of these emotions and in being able to hold one in my right hand and the other in my left hand.