Courage & the Choice to Be Ourselves

Courage & the Choice to Be Ourselves

Courage & the Choice to Be Ourselves by Christine Barnes

Recently, I received a fair amount of criticism and judgement for a choice I made. Truth be told, any amount of unwanted criticism and unwarranted judgement is too much so it didn’t take long before it felt unrelenting.

I went back and forth with this decision for months and I’ll be honest, I had days where I beat myself up for not being able to tough it out. I often thought to myself, “Why can’t I be like everyone else?”

It has taken me a long time to come to terms with who I am and this remains one of my biggest challenges to date. The reason I’m unable to “stick it out” in a toxic environment for an extended amount of time is simply because I choose not to.

I’ve spent my fair share of this lifetime existing in toxic relationships and environments so I’ve become less tolerant as I’ve grown older. With age comes wisdom and so has the realization that my time can be better spent elsewhere regardless of the relationship or environment.

Over the course of a month I was on the receiving end of criticism, judgement, and even a few derogatory terms because the choice I was considering was unpopular. Certain comments hit me much like a wrecking ball because I had shelved everything else as I directed and devoted my full effort, energy, and focus to the one thing I was now considering walking away from. It wasn’t long before I began doubting my own ability after having my character called into question and being met with disapproval and remarks which were meant to do nothing more than cut me down.


I chose to pivot and leave a job back in January 2017 which was little more than a mediocre position within an adverse environment and, ultimately, an awful excuse for a paycheck.

I remember making that decision and feeling both relieved and thrilled. But as quickly as the opportunity arose and my excitement grew, the anticipation of disapproval along with the thought that I might further this idea that I am, in fact, a disappointment left me feeling deflated.

What are you going to do?

What’s your plan?


I’ve experienced this cycle many times over with everything from a change in undergraduate majors to traveling to different destinations to hobbies and subjects I’m interested in delving deeper into. And it’s always soul crushing to some extent.

Again, time brings with it lessons and wisdom so I prepared myself for the onset of questions and potential concern, frustration, or flat out disapproval.

And that’s the thing. As long as you are alive and breathing and dreaming, the potential for unwelcome feedback and unnecessary negativity will always exist. Humans are generally curious creatures and this is especially true if and when you choose to break away from any sort of mold.

But if you’re looking for those people who doubt you and your ability, you will always be able to find them. If you are worried that someone might not approve of a choice you’ve made, you will be met with those thoughts and opinions after welcoming them into the conversation. Unfortunately, the critics and naysayers are never all that far from you.


I chose myself back in 2017 when I opted for something new by way of the path less traveled and I’m choosing me again this time around.

You have a choice, too.

You have a choice with how you spend your time. You have a choice with the people you surround yourself with. You have a choice with the words and beliefs you allow yourself to take on as your own.

You have a choice with whether or not you show up for yourself.

I’ve tried so hard to fulfill other people’s versions of me over the years.

I’ve tried to suppress who I am at my core to keep things more agreeable for the sake of what other people might think. I’ve sacrificed the things that energize me and bring me both achievement and fulfillment for the chance to be successful in someone else’s eyes. I’ve put goals and dreams on the back burner waiting for other people to join me in my pursuit.

I can guarantee you this will not be the last time someone disagrees with or disapproves of a decision of mine. And I can choose to take outsider’s opinions to heart or I can take what comes with a heaping dose of self-preservation salt and trust that I know what’s best for me.

At the end of every day, I choose courage and to live a life in which I’m proud to call mine.

Whatever it is you want for your life, give yourself permission and a loving kick in the ass to go after it. That career change you’ve been thinking about and researching, that trip you’ve been on the fence about booking, even that creative idea that’s been bubbling under the surface for some time now. Do yourself a favor and take that first step.

Remember this if nothing else: you don’t need to live your life for anyone other than yourself. Life is happening whether we make the choice to live for someone else or we choose to be ourselves.


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Courage and the Choice to Be Ourselves by Christine Barnes