Monday, October 25, 2010

I am not brave

...I am a cautious person--contrary to what some might see me as.

I am not afraid of snakes or spiders or other creepy crawlies, but I don't think that makes me brave. I think that is just practical, at least it was when we were living in my husband's ancient family home.

I am not brave, I am cautious. Let me prove it.

Not bravery one: When I bought my first car (a little red Honda Civic that I *really* wanted) I chose a stick rather than an automatic. I actually couldn't drive a stick and so I had my trusty boyfriend who could drive anything w/two or four wheels, drive it home so I could practice on my cul-de-sac street and in my driveway. I had a plan (ask boyfriend--who would never have said no to driving a new car & practice under controlled conditions. I knew that most people who strive to learn to operate a stick shift are successful, so I had empirical evidence on my side--not brave, practical, cautious. See.)

Not bravery two: coming to Japan. Yeah, sure it is a foreign country, but I knew it was "safe". That there was a low crime rate, that the people were not at war with anybody and I knew that I had a job waiting for me on this end that would pay me more than I would have started out with in UT, so for me, going to Japan was not an act of bravery, it was a calculation. The only real risk involved it turned out was flying on Korean Airlines the year that the Olympics were held in Seoul. We ran out of paper cups and toilet paper before the plane landed--seriously a scary memory. When I found out about my first job in Japan and decided to go for it, I never thought of going abroad as an act of bravery. It was a given. That is what is great about being young. You just *do* things without thinking too much about them. It is not really bravery, it is more like stupidity with a sort of back up plan.

Not bravery three: marrying a man from another country/culture. We had been together for about 8 years when I asked him to marry me. We had been living together in his family house (with his mother, as tradition requires--and OK the living with the MIL is kind of brave, but more like being brave at the doctor when you have to get a flu shot or stitches--you just have to bite your lip (and your tongue) and deal with it eh?) for a good part of that and I wanted to make an honest man out of him. I knew we were compatible, could communicate despite differences in language, and traditions. Any marriage is a leap of faith and I strongly believe that a huge mistake that many people make is assuming that their partner is the same as they are simply because they speak the same mother tongue and were raised in the same country. We all were raised in different households with different religions and family traditions.

So, I don't think I am brave. I am proud of myself sometimes for being able to *do* things that I know my female relatives or friends couldn't do. I like the fact that I can work and live and enjoy a life in another country. I can read a non-English map, drive, use an ATM (I had to show my husband how to do it because he had always just used the tellers--score!), get on a plane, fly to Tokyo or Osaka and navigate the subway systems. I can do all that, not because I am brave, but because I have learned how.

Sometimes people who I went to school with long, long ago comment (usually on my facebook page) saying that I seem so brave.

I am not.

Yeah, sure I can catch a frog or a lizard or chase a giant spider out of the house with a broom, but I definitely would not say that is brave. There are far braver people in the world--so it seems to me that anyone who looks at me and my life and uses that particular adjective, would be better off using it on someone who really is. (Like a firefighter or a nurse or a junior high school teacher--now *those* people ARE brave).

--this post was inspired by a Mama Kat prompt which went slightly awry.
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