Brave or (Possibly) Stupid

Sometimes it’s hard to tell the stupid from the brave.

Sometimes it’s little things. Spending $12 to enter a writing contest. Did I just waste $12? Do I have a chance of beating 230 other people to win the prize? 220 people to make it into the money? How can I stand it until the first cut is announced? Is the piece I submitted even close to what they were looking for?

But I did it. I paid my $12 and entered the contest. Stupid (possibly) and brave.

I was told I needed to have a medical treatment that terrified me. Did I really want someone to try something so drastic on me? What if all I got were side effects? What if I got no effects? What if I didn’t get myself back the way I used to be? Should I believe all the negatives I’d heard about it? Should I believe the positives?

I agreed to have it. Stupid (possibly) and brave.

Once upon a time I told someone that I loved him.

I knew the rules. In a casual relationship, never be the first to say it. But how long can you go feeling it but not saying it? What if he runs? What if you thought it might be welcome but afterward you feel like dirt? Couldn’t he have figured it out by this time? Was he not wanting to say it either? Or just not feeling it?

So I said it. Stupid (possibly) and brave.

No risk, no reward, they say. But there you are, hanging out on that cliff, looking over the edge, making the decision. Knowing that it’s brave but (possibly) stupid. That the reward may not be worth the risk, or that there may be no reward at all.

Except. Except taking that step off may mean that you fly. You could win. You could be cured. He could love you. If that’s the case, then not taking the step would be the stupid thing to do.

But you might fall. You might waste $12. You might be no better off, or even worse. He might laugh. Then you were brave but stupid.

How do you weigh bravery versus stupidity? Wasting $12 isn’t much of a gamble. Considering a risky medical procedure is. So is admitting your feelings. Does taking the small risks, being a little bit brave, prepare you for taking the big ones later? I’m not sure. Each risk must be weighed anew. You could still fall, every time.

But taking the leap and not failing puts you a little closer to doing it the next time. I would pay to enter another contest. I would consider another scary health option. I would talk of love.

None of those decisions has turned out exactly as I hoped – or as I feared. One was disappointing; one proved unnecessary; one was satisfying.

Have I been brave or stupid? The next time I have a choice, which will it be?

Statistically, some of my decisions are going to prove to be stupid. Historically, many of them have been. The next one may prove stupid too.

But, as one of my favorite authors said, “If you don’t bet, you can’t win.” That argues for bravery.

We all teeter on that cliff at one time or another. Fall, or be pushed, or leap. Or stay where you are. Which is brave? Which stupid?

 

3 thoughts on “Brave or (Possibly) Stupid

  1. A major turning point in my outlook came when I had to decide whether to start taking a very expensive daily injectable medication for my MS that may or may not lower my chances of becoming more disabled by about 30%. The drug has many possibly unpleasant side effects and the disease has a good chance of not progressing, even if untreated. I made the choice to be brave, deciding I would much rather be regretful for something I did (if side effects were bad) than something I didn’t do (disease progression if I skipped the drugs).
    I continue to look back at that every time a brave vs (possibly) stupid decision comes up. So far I think being brave has improved my life significantly.

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  2. I spent most of my life taking the safe option. Bravery was what others did, not me. Seven years ago I left my abusive husband after 30 years marriage. I was told I was brave. It wasn’t bravery, it was survival.
    Living alone as a disabled pensioner, I have learnt to take risks, make decisions, some foolish, but no experiences are wasted and are shaping me into the strong woman I’ve become.

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