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Courage is Driving a Car | Prati Kaufman
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What is a superhero?

People often think of superheroes as larger-than-life figures who have powers beyond imagination, someone who can hold off evil with the power in their wrists. or who can time travel to save the world from destruction. To me, superheroes are people like you who wake up every morning and choose courage over fear. Courage is nothing like bravery.  

Bravery is external in nature; it makes you want to climb Mt. Everest or run 100 miles without a break. Courage comes from within. It is personal. We celebrate bravery while courage is sometimes overlooked as an innate trait – it may fly under the radar. One of the most courageous things I have done is driving.  

Fifteen years ago, when I moved to America, I didn’t know how to drive. It was very clear that learning to drive was necessary to live an optimal life in this country. Learning to drive was scarier for me than getting married to an American and leaving my family behind in India – but the desire to be independent was bigger than the fear. Even after getting my license it took me over three years to drive on the highway… 

and another six years to do it willingly.  

I had to give myself a mental talk every time I got in the car. There were times when I couldn’t take the required exit because I was too scared to change lanes. In fact, only in last three years has driving become enjoyable and fun for me. The fear still creeps in at times, especially when I’m next to a big 18-wheeler, but it no longer has the same power. I feel like a superhero when I whiz past it. Courage is doing the right thing for yourself despite the fear and limiting beliefs. 

You must be wondering by now, if I didn’t drive in India, how did I get around? You see, having a car is a luxury, not everyone can afford it. In my younger days we walked or cycled to go places. Later on, I used a moped or public transport, (rikshaw pulled by horses, tuk tuk (pictured in banner photo), taxis, buses, trains etc.). It isn’t uncommon for women to depend on family members to take them places. People with money (upper middle class) have chauffeured cars.  

I once watched a TED speech from Tegan Philips, an endurance adventurist. She spent a year riding a bicycle through Africa and completed a 2000 km triathlon in New Zealand. After a particularly adventurous year she decided to move back with her parents and pursue her passion of being a cartoonist. It was a difficult career, and no one was interviewing her for drawing cartoons in her bedroom. There was no external validation.  

After a year, a voice told her, “Let’s go on an adventure. Let’s do the hardest and most dangerous race across Europe.” She decided to pack up and forget about being a cartoonist. Her parents were against it. They said, “Don’t go back to your comfort zone”. Being a cartoonist is what brings you joy. It feels almost unbelievable that for someone doing the hardest race is comfort zone. For Tegan being a cartoonist was the courageous thing, it was out of her comfort zone.

So, you see, courage is not always sexy. It is just doing something out of your comfort zone. Sometimes it looks like holding your head high when everything else is falling apart. Sometimes it is learning to drive, sometimes it is adapting to a new environment. Courage is quiet. Courage is believing in yourself when no one else believes in you.

Courage is a way of life. It is about doing those little scary things.

Have the courage to follow your heart and dreams. Choose to stay true to yourself. Choose to do what brings you joy. Let your courage define you, not failure and success.

photo credit: https://thecityfix.com/blog/new-release-review-of-literature-in-indias-urban-auto-rickshaw-sector/