Courage to me is just pushing through those fears, you know, changing the negative thoughts. You know, just keep going. - Wendi Watson, Founder and Executive Director of Empowered Citizens
What does being courageous mean to you? In this interview excerpt, Love talks to Wendi Watson, Founder and Executive Director of Empowered Citizens, on what it takes and means to be courageous as woman today.
Love: What does courageous mean to you?
Wendi: So, I did look it up. And I certainly expound on what I believe it to be, but the definition is not determined by danger, or pain. And it says brave.
And for me, like, I can define it, but how do I use it? How do I apply it?
And so I've had to apply it in my life. Many, many times.
You know, I even going back to school. I went back to school at age 38, and I had not been in school for so long. And so there was a fear of, Oh, I'm going to be the oldest person in the classroom, I'm going to be in this class with all of these young people.
And so there was a fear of whether or not I'm going to be successful, you know, are how are they gonna judge me? Are they gonna see me, you know, it's gonna be embarrassing. And I pushed through all of that. You know, practising courage, regardless of what I thought, what I believed it would be, I pushed forward and went to school and really found out that there were other non-traditional students in the classroom with me, you know, raising my son, you know, there were times that I had to practice courage, you know, being able to share, I tell people, how I feel, showing teaching people how to treat me, there was a time where I didn't communicate effectively, because, you know, something will be wrong.
And, you know, especially in relationships, something would be wrong, and I wouldn't express it. And out of fear of what somebody would think, how they would respond. And so I had to practice courage, and start telling people, you know, how that made me feel. And, in essence, teaching them how to treat me standing up for myself. I had to practice courage. Um, you know, I took the LCSW exam, multiple times. And after the first time, I felt like a failure, right. But it's a courage for me to go back and take it again. And again.
So courage to me is just pushing through those fears, you know, changing the negative thoughts. You know, just keep going. Regardless of those feelings, the fear, yeah, pushing through the fear, for me is, is the courage.
Love: I love that, you know, there's a book by Susan Jeffers that one of my professors gave me a little over a year ago. And it was called Feel the Fear and, and that book was so important in my life, because I never thought about it that way.
I had always had the perception that we do things, and fears, absent from it, you know. I’m making moves, but there's no feeling fear there. I have to take it out. But oftentimes, when you're doing things, especially when it's new to you, you're going to be scared. And so they try to teach you like, oh, we'll turn off the fear response, take that out. But it's like, no, sometimes you're still going to be scared, and it's not going to go away, and you still got to do what you have to do. Because that can hinder you from getting to your next level.
And I can honestly say, this year for me has been such a character building year, I'm getting so much more mature. Understanding that life is not over when things happen to you. Understanding that, even though, something hurts you, it doesn't have to debilitate you. It’s teaching me about forgiveness?
And you have to have courage to forgive people.
My ex just reached out to me out of the blue, and I was harbouring emotions towards him. And I didn't even realise what it was until I spoke with him today. And it was a resentment there because I didn't feel safe with him throughout our relationship, and I'm like, Whoa, this is amazing. It's amazing, where you will learn about yourself when you can self reflect.
And it takes courage to do that, oh, face you in the mirror and be like this, staying here is going to prevent you from moving forward. And sometimes we don't realise it because it works. Yeah, as long as you stay here, it's going to work. But if you tried to get here, and then when you try to move here, as God is trying to propel you, you're gonna have to change some things and let some things go.
Wendi: Absolutely, absolutely. And I certainly see the growth in you.
And so I commend you for, you know, having the courage to self reflect having the courage to say yeah, maybe I didn't make the best choice here. Maybe I did make this mistake, you know, owning up to your stuff, right? And not putting the blame on everyone else, right? Because we play a part in every situation.
And so sometimes it does take courage to be able to look at self and say, maybe I could have done this differently, right?
You know, maybe I need to explore my behavioural patterns, my thinking patterns. And because like you said, If I'm trying to get to another level, sometimes we have to practice those. I and I call, call them spiritual principles on courage to me is a spiritual principle. And sometimes you have to practice them on different levels.
Love: Because you, you may have courage in this area.
Wendi: But you got to take it up a notch in this area.
Love: Exactly. That was me when it came to love.
I've always struggled with vulnerability. But in my head is like, no, this is a good thing. Because these other they became played. I don't really deal with stuff like that. But it's because I never opened up to be hurt by anything. So how would it even be possible? Why wasn't vulnerable enough?
And they would know, a year in and they're like, Oh, well, you. I know you care about me. But it seems like you're not really open. You know? And I'm looking like, how does this man because in my head again, perception. I'm thinking men don't pay attention to stuff like that. But when they know you, they know you. And when they know women, they know women. That's not how a woman acts when she really cares about a person.
So I had to also be able to hear from other people, because that's an outside reflection. And that can be very difficult to deal with. But it gets even harder when you have to face yourself is more I think is more difficult to face yourself than it is for somebody else to tell you about yourself and for you to hear it.
Because from another person's perspective is their realisation.
So I was like, you might take it seriously. You might not why, but when you got it. Right, you will I'm you know, I love you, right? I'm still here. But for me to be like, Nah, you didn't treat that man. Like that's different, you know.
Listen to the rest of Love and Wendi's conversation in this podcast episode: