You will probably never feel brave or interesting or mysterious
Sorry. But it's better to know, so you don't feel disappointed in yourself, or waste energy aiming for it (like dark undereye circles* and cellulite - they're genetic. No cream in the world will get rid of them. That's sad news but at least it saves you %). Bravery/courage is when you feel super scared but do the thing you're scared of because you believe it matters.
So what you feel when you're being brave is: scared. You will actually probably feel weaker and shakier than when you're not doing anything particularly brave. This is important to know because if you need to do something brave (stand up to sexism in the workplace, for e.g.) you can't wait to feel brave, because it's not a real emotion (it's an action you take while feeling the emotion of fear). You miiiiight feel brave AFTER doing the brave thing, but you also might just feel like throwing up or hiding in a cupboard for the rest of your life. (Again, sorry. Please be brave even though it feels shitty.)
~ Anecdote: When I sporadically do yoga, there are poses when you stand on one leg, and the teacher will say "find your balance" and "connect with your balance" and stuff. You know when you feel super balanced? When you are on all fours in cat/cow pose. When you're standing on one leg, you feel wobbly and unstable. Your balance will improve through doing it, but you do not FEEL balanced.
Similarly, I don't feel strong when I'm at the gym. I deliberately lift weights until they're too heavy for me. That's pretty much compulsory if you want to get stronger; it has to be hard. You feel strong when lifting something is easy, but if it's easy, then you're not training very well and you should add more weight. So you always feel weak when getting stronger, pretty much by definition. Flexibility is the same - any training I think.
The reason you'll never feel interesting is slightly different. It's like how you can't hear your own accent. The way you look at the world is just how you look at the world. It can be the most utterly unusual take on things, but it will seem normal to you, and everyone else will seem weird. So you never get to feel interesting to yourself.
Similarly, the idea of being mysterious can be kind of compelling and glamorous, like secretly having ninja skills or a double life as a spy. Someone might seem mysterious if you can't figure out why they do things, what they feel, or what will happen next. But even if you became an international jewel thief, you would not be mysterious to yourself. You would always know what you were up to! Indeed, your plans would be meticulously laid.
You could be the most mysterious person in the world to other people, but if you don't know your OWN motivations for doing things, if your own actions come as a surprise to you... you're probably a hot mess? I say this with love! But adults should be reeeeelatively clear on why they do things. My housemate's not-girlfriend-anymore-for-good-reasons spontaneously bought three kittens off Gumtree [Australian Craigslist]. Like, on a same-day whim, with no plan for how she was going to care for them. (She gave them away again shortly after, they're fine.). That's the closest you're gonna get to feeling mysterious. It's not great, right?
I would also, personally, having been someone who was considered a bit mysterious - just because I moved around a lot so people didn't get to know me that well, see, it's boring - say that it is way way way better, to feel known and seen. Mysterious = being misunderstood, again, basically by definition. It's the opposite of when someone sends you a tweet that is so perfectly perfectly you, because they get you.
And even though you can't feel interesting, you can feel interested, and that interested will probably be interesting to other people.
This piece was originally published in The Whippet #56 – subscribe to get the next one in your inbox!
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