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On being a coward

Delusions of grandeur be damned, it’s taken me a long time to come to terms with my cowardice. The noble knight that wasn’t. A true modern man. 

I used to be a goth kid in high school. Not because I hated the establishment, but because I wanted to feel better about my social awkwardness. Instead of working on my people skills, I took the easy route and hated them. If they don’t like me, I’ll give them a real reason not to like me. My trenchcoat and big boots became my armor against the cruel world. Anger and self pity were my weapons. 

One night my group of high school friends and I, walking down the street like a gaggle of black geese, showed our true colors. Our elected leader set off a firecracker in the middle of the street. A guy who looked like he just got out of prison, waiting at a nearby bus stop, didn’t find us very amusing. There were six of us. There was one of him. 

We stood frozen in fear as he walked down the line and slapped each of us in the face. I’m not exaggerating, he walked down the line of scared goth kids and gave each one an individually wrapped slap. 

Ten minutes after the embarrassment, once he was out of earshot, we licked our wounds by talking tough. He was lucky we didn’t fight back. We started to believe our own lies and bought two pairs of boxing gloves at Model’s. To show how brave we were, we spent that winter backyard boxing each other. Some kids kill brain cells with drugs, we did it with stupidity. 

A coward will go to great lengths to hide from his nature. 

Cowardice became a pattern. I would be afraid of something, I wouldn’t do it, and I would end up in a much worse situation for it. Combining cowardice with comfort, and you get a person shivering in place, quietly counting down the hours to their end. 

My name is Vlad, and inside I’m still a scared, anti-social kid, trying to find a little courage to get through the day. I wish I was a self help Guru and could give you 13 steps to not being a coward, or the 12 pillars to overcoming fear, but I’m still figuring this out myself. 

The best answer I’ve found is to acknowledge that we’re not in a very dangerous world anymore. Asking a boss for a raise or a girl on a date won’t get you dragged out back and shot like a dog. There’s not that much risk in the modern world, and knowing that, you don’t need courage, just a tolerance of discomfort. 

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