I love my job - the one that I do for pay. I'm good at it and it's easy to feel like I'm good at it. It's the grown up equivalent of being a straight-A student. It comes naturally to me.
Then there's gardening. Having grown up in an apartment, I always had dreams of working a piece of land and making it beautiful and productive. I also had to start from scratch as an adult learning how to do it. I am certainly years away from getting the beautiful thing down, but in the last couple of years I've made pretty good strides in productive. I've started saying that we have more of a farm than a garden because it's certainly not orderly or manicured, but it does tend to yield at least some good things to eat. I love to garden, I love to grow things, and a lot of times I feel like I'm incredibly bad at it. I do it anyway because not doing it seems much sadder than struggling with my self-esteem issues. I am prone to just do things that I'm immediately good at, and if it weren't for gardening, I would never grow beyond this. I would never know that failure is not the end of the world and that hard-won successes are sweeter.
Then there's parenting. My childhood is rife with examples of what not to do as a parent, but it's very hard to be constructive if you only do something in opposition to something else. Perhaps because I've always longed to have children and being able to do this well is so important to me, it's very easy for me to feel like I'm falling short. The critic is loud, but I do it anyway because I love my children and I love being a mom.
There is bravery that happens in response to a dangerous circumstance or an external threat and then there is the bravery that is marked by standing up to the enemies inside you - fear, self-criticism, doubt and all the other mean voices in your head. Bravery in this case is doing it anyway, loving something anyway, inhabiting your life rather than always observing and judging what you do.