This post was written by Sally Koering, Youth Frontiers Experiences Manager. Sally is married with three young children and lives in the Twin Cities area. Sally has been at Youth Frontiers for the past 13 years. Along with her work at YF, she also has her own consulting business doing creative consulting and presentation coaching. You can find her at sandyandallyproductions.com.
When my sweet oldest daughter, Maren, was a baby, she was the quietest, calmest, most beautiful little baby that ever graced my eyes (I know, I know, but it’s true!). And I was convinced she was a good sleeper because I was the awesomest mom in the whole world. Then, when little Lukey came along and he squirmed and squawked, well, it was a bit of a surprise. Luke and Maren are different people, we realized. So much for that awesomest mom thing.
Not only are they different from each other, they are different from me.
Before I was a parent – when I was working on retreats with thousands of kids every year – my vision for character in my future kids was really clear. They will be kind, they will act with courage and they will show respect towards others and themselves! They will, because my husband and I hold these values close to us and do our best to live them out.
But it’s not that simple, of course. Character is a multidimensional thing, calling us to challenge ourselves, stretch ourselves and listen very closely to what our conscience is saying to us and doing our darndest to follow through.
Not to be overly simplistic, but courage – what I’ll call “extroverted courage” – is the courage that gets all the attention and glory. Which is exactly what those extroverts (like me) want!
But introverted courage? Introverts rarely get accolades for all of their courageous efforts and sometimes I overlook them or discount how incredibly important they can be.
Like when Maren sits and reads by herself, or swings outside by herself, or sits in her quiet room playing by herself while the neighborhood kids run around together. She is listening to what she needs after a long day of being “on” at school. That’s courage.
And when she walked to the front of her piano recital a year ago and played a beautiful duet with a professional singer, whom she didn’t know, my heart actually squished into a crumpled little ball of fear and pride for her. I know how scared she was. Oh man, was that brave! I cry even now realizing how much she was challenging herself.
Sometimes my introverted husband reminds me that my extroverted idea of courage (Stand up for your friends! Speak up! Walk right up to that situation and do something about it.) is not Maren’s courage (or, at least it isn’t right now). And that’s ok.
Maren’s courage is in the little moments. When she writes a goodbye note to the classmate who is moving away because Maren knows that moving will not be easy. When she continually reaches out to her little sister – comforting her, including her and patiently dealing with her tantrums. And when she feels no pressure at all to do what everyone else is doing. (I hope she hangs on to that in the upcoming years.)
Maren’s courage is a quiet courage. An at-her-own-pace, sometimes-really-slow courage. But it’s a determined courage. And it’s a testament. It’s there and it’s astounding. This quiet courage thing is completely unfamiliar to me, her extroverted mother. And truth be told, it’s the kind of courage that I wish I had more of when I faced peer pressure. When the voice inside me was too easily quieted/pushed aside/ignored because I wanted to be liked. I needed more quiet courage.
So, I say to you, my sweet, introverted daughter:
To thine own self be true. Your courage is a quiet – and powerful – courage. And I honor that.
**This post was, in part, inspired by Momastery. Thanks, G!
Oh, and here’s a YouTube video of that awesome duet. See? Beautiful. [it starts at :52]