Brave Enough


Zachary Ninomiya

This is an illustration that represents my feelings when I’m faced with a stressful situation. It feels like I’m about to jump off a cliff, without knowing what lurks below. I can either turn away or jump, and there’s only one way to find out what’s at the bottom.

Zachary Ninomiya, Section Editor

I’ve always been good at running.  Turning away when the situation turns rough, being too afraid to experience what the world has to offer, giving up before daring to try, all of these are familiar sensations to me.  I never really had the courage to go beyond my comfort zone, to do something radically different from what was familiar.

For the past three years, this has been the reality of life for me.  Weeks were a constant cycle of coming to school, getting through the day, and going home to do homework.  Free time was generally spent involving myself in a solitary “safe” activity, like doodling in a sketchbook or reading, with very little social interaction.  Never would I have expected this year to be any different.

This year seemed to start like every other year.  I got my classes, all of which were courses tailored towards my artistic interests, and made it through the day.  But at the end of the second week, I did something that I never thought I would do. I walked into an open practice for my school’s Comedy Sportz team, a group that focuses on family-friendly, competitive improv.

Keep in mind that improv was something that I would never be brave enough to do.  I have always been somewhat anxious, with a stutter if I overthink or underthink my words.  I’m the type of person who hesitates before entering social gatherings due to fear of judgment, who cannot eat or sleep around other people because he thinks that he’s “eating or sleeping incorrectly,” who falters when texting because he “can’t find the right thing to say.”  Simply put, my natural tendencies seemed to render me ill-fitted for improv.

Despite this, I entered.  I sat down and waited for practice to start.   While waiting, I felt the all-too-familiar urge to run away because of my nervousness.  As practice went on, the feeling never faded, from introductions to the unscripted monologue I had to give at the end. Even after practice, I approached the coach and opened up a bit about my concerns.

But as I left that first practice, I felt like I was on top of the world.

I felt both proud and exhausted. I was proud to have been brave enough to overcome my nerves and challenge myself, but exhausted due to the unusual amount of social interaction I experienced.  Admittedly, I was still unsure of whether or not I would join. Ultimately, I’m glad that I made the choice to join.

Fast-forward to now, and I’ve recently played in my first Comedy Sportz match.  Soon, I will participate in my first school musical. Never would I have thought that I could do anything like this.  And honestly, it still feels like a part of me hesitates when I participate in these theatrical activities.

However, there’s also a part of me that’s brave enough.  Brave enough to step out of my comfort zone, brave enough to try something new, brave enough to overcome my insecurities and just act without worrying about what others would think about me. And because I was brave enough, I have met some of the friendliest people and found new interests to pursue.

In life, people have the choice to either overcome or succumb to their nerves.  Often, the people who succumb will remain safe for fear of being hurt, emotionally or physically.  Sometimes, we need to be unafraid of getting hurt, for the person that is hurt the most is often the person that grows the most.  We cannot always run and hide, for we can never grow if our lives are dictated by fear.

Of course, we need to know when it is acceptable to run away.  Not every challenge can or should be faced, and there’s no shame in running away from such situations.  But there’s also no shame in being brave enough to try something new. Every new experience begins with the willingness to try.

I would say that I’m done running, but that would be a lie.  There have been many situations in the past where I succumbed to my nerves, and I know that there will be plenty of situations in the future where my courage will falter and I’ll inevitably flee.  Even now, I still feel the urge to retreat from stressful situations, such as the school musical, which sets off my nerves just thinking about it. But I also know that I can be brave enough to overcome my anxious nature and truly try to grow as a person.