Whenever I tell my story of moving to Nashville, I get the same, kind response: “Wow, that is so brave.” I’m learning to believe that maybe it was. But at the beginning, it felt absolutely crazy, possibly unwise, and definitely not brave.
I moved without a friend or a job, so in response to the question: “What brought you to Nashville?” all I could say was, “I wanted to be in Nashville.” No real reason, just an inkling that there was something here for me (…besides the obvious: hot chicken and Five Daughters Bakery).
When I was debating whether or not to take the plunge and move, a friend warned me to be careful my hesitation wasn’t coming from a place of fear. As an Enneagram Six, I knew she’d nailed me. Fear is my Achilles’ heel, and I’d resolved not to let it rule my life. So there it was—decision made.
If you’d told me I would do this five years ago, I would have laughed. I mean honestly, I cried the entire eight-hour car ride to college (shout out to my parents who kept driving). In what universe would I willingly move somewhere alone, with no structure of school to facilitate community?
Looking back, I can see that Calvin is where I was supposed to be. I gained friendships and memories and an education that shaped me and will last a lifetime. That dramatically sad drive to college is now a (mostly) funny memory instead of a dark day—though my parents might disagree.
But on that day in the car, I wouldn’t have believed that my roommate would be one of my best friends, that her family would invite me to dinner and welcome me into their home. I wouldn’t have believed that I would get to live and learn in England, fall in love with an ancient city, and travel the world with my friends. Thankfully, my preconceived notions of uncertainty were met with a better reality than I could have imagined.
When I’m watching for it, I see God do this a lot in my story. He doesn’t tell me the end because there’s no way I would believe it. I had to walk through each day of the past five years to gain the confidence and the grit to see not only could I move to Nashville, but I could thrive here. I can see how I was prepared for this, long before I would have ever thought myself capable.
Somewhere along the way, I latched on to the narrative that brave equals movie superhero who doesn’t hesitate before jumping into harm’s way to save the world. I hesitated, I was scared, and therefore brave didn’t apply to me.
But maybe bravery is more about acknowledging your fear and showing up anyway. It doesn’t have to be all flashing swords and dramatic rescues; it can just as easily be a shaking hand and an introduction. Maybe bravery is trusting that the experience on the other side of your fear is worth the risk.
Olivia graduated from Calvin in May 2018 with a double major in business and writing. She now works as an editor in Nashville, Tennessee and is eating her way through the restaurants of her new town. She enjoys weekend trips with friends, petting other people’s dogs, and drinking coffee like a Gilmore Girl.