Recently, I have been thinking a lot about what strength and courage look like.
I have been reflecting on the moments when I was the strongest, the most courageous, or when I did something that amazed me. Looking back, it wasn't the moments when I spoke boldly and felt confident. It also wasn't when I finally accomplished a big goal.
When I look back, one of my most courageous moments was the first time I called someone to pitch a screenplay.
My heart was racing, I stumbled over my words, and I felt completely unprepared. And I was. I wasn't ready at all. The script I pitched wasn't ready, but I had no way of knowing it then. My skills were still too rough. I had no faith in myself as a writer, and yet, I did it anyways. And that amazes me. That person who did that, she makes me so proud, which is incredible, because afterwards, after that phone call, I felt naive and incapable. I felt like a loser. I was utterly disappointed in myself and my potential.
I wanted to quit.
I had no idea that I would look back on that moment and gain inspiration and courage from it over and over in the future.
There were many times after that when I thought, I'm not going to make it. I was tired of the rejection and the doubt and fear. I was tired of living for tomorrow, always hoping tomorrow would bring good news. And in those moments I thought, I have no strength to go on. When I felt I couldn't even crawl a step further, those were the moments I felt the most broken and weak, and those were also the times when I dug my nails in and pulled myself an inch further forward.
That inch cultivated more strength and resilience in me than the miles I'd traversed before it.
Clawing my fingers into the soil of my path, and dragging my tired spirt on, pulled up inner resources of strength and tenacity I didn't know I had. I earned that dirt below my nails. I earned those scrapes on my knees and elbows from where I crawled over rocks and sticks, unwilling to admit defeat.
Where the scrapes healed and turned to scars, the skin became tougher. And the next time I reached that point of I can't I knew I was lying to myself. I could, because I had done it before, and I would again and again, growing stronger and more courageous each time.
Grit, that inner iron will that says I am unstoppable, only grows when we we think we can't go on... and then do.