Sunday 26th June 2022

Women of Courage Series. #33 Sanch. 25/2020.

Women of Courage Series. #33 Sanch. 25/2020.


A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid-May 2019: Wednesdays: each week until the series concludes in 2020.

Here is the introduction to the series.

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda.

In the world of blogs and social media we often think how good it would be to “meet I.R.L.” ….meet up in real life. I have been following Sanch as a blogger for some time, and one day, we DID just that. We met up. We did that a few more times too. Coffee and a treat..and chatted away for ages. You see, I was fortunate that Sanch came to live for a while in the area where we live so meet ups could happen. Now, even though she has moved back to “the big city” we know well, I am sure it won’t stop us getting together again soon. Sanch is a 36 year old with a vibrant smile and energy to bottle. She loves time at the beach I know that too.



What have you faced in your life where you have had to be courageous?

It’s interesting, there have been so many situations in my life that people have defined as being courageous but I never thought of it that way especially while going through it. But I think when I look back in hindsight, it certainly was the case. Coming to Australia as a 21-year-old with no family or friends here was a big deal but it was something I wanted so again, I didn’t see it as being brave even though it’s what everyone told me.


I think though, one of the bravest things for me was leaving a couple of long-term relationships; one in 2012 and the other in 2017. The 2012 in particular required a lot of courage not because of anything to do with my partner necessarily but because I was unhappy and not fulfilled but probably stayed because it was more comfortable than the unknown. We’d been together for a long time and I was genuinely scared what it would be like without him. It was similar in 2017 – a shorter relationship – but I also had an added bout of depression for 18 months which made me stay longer than I should have. For most people, this might not seem like something brave or courageous but for me, when in those long-term relationships, it was the only ‘family’ I had here and therefore leaving it meant being alone.

In 2012, I also only had about 4 friends from uni, three of whom were in long-term relationships themselves. It was one of the scariest things to do – to leave the comfort of something stable albeit unhappy.


How did this change you in any way? Please outline further if this has been the case.

The first break up in 2012 taught me a lot about myself. It pushed me to decide to get out of my comfort zone, to change my life. I started by losing weight and getting healthier physically, and slowly and steadily, decided I needed to expand my friendship group. In that relationship, we’d both been socially anxious and in hindsight, I think my social anxiety was maintained by his. If you know me now, you’d never believe I was someone who was anxious in social situations and even now I wonder how much of it was just contagion as opposed to it being me.

I decided after the break-up, I had two choices – to sit at home alone on the weekends or to push myself and meet new people. I still don’t know how, but I chose the latter. I still remember how nervous I was when I went to my first hiking Meetup – a group of 20-odd people and I knew no one. I can still remember the anxiety, the fear of meeting people, the fear of being judged, of not knowing what to say. And then, I surprised myself. I kept doing this weekend after weekend and today, 6 years later, I do have a good group of friends I’ve made from those hiking days.

It has also made me much more social and when I moved up to the Central Coast two years ago, I made the effort to meet new people and build networks. I also find that now, I’m more open to new experiences and doing things on my own or with others. I can push myself out of my comfort zone a lot more easily. It’s not that I don’t feel nervous – it’s that I’ll do things despite the nerves. And that in itself, is courage.


Is there something you learned from this that you could recommend to help others who need courage?

I learnt I am a lot more capable than I realised. Back in that long-term relationship, I always thought of myself as socially anxious and boring {quite obviously, it wasn’t helping me grow!} but once I left, once I faced fears, it made me realise maybe I’m not who I thought I was. More than that, I also realised that in order to courageous, one doesn’t have to not feel afraid. Courage is doing something even when you are scared. It’s making a choice to do something regardless of the outcome. It’s feeling the fear and doing it anyway. In fact, ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ has become a mantra of sorts for me.


Do you think you are able to be more courageous now if the life situation calls for it? Why is that?

Oh definitely! I think now, every time I’m faced with something new, something unknown and I feel scared, I remind myself of all the times I’ve done things before and survived. Of course, sometimes things haven’t always worked out, but I have still learnt from experiences, still grown in ways and yes, survived. So, if I could do it before, I can definitely do it again.


Is there any message you would give to others facing a situation where courage could be needed?

I can’t stress enough that courage is not the absence of fear. It is feeling the fear and doing it anyway. It is embracing the discomfort and doing what needs to be done. I think if you remember that, you are more likely to allow yourself to be okay with the uncomfortable feelings and unhelpful thoughts and still give things a go. The fact is, when we are anxious about something, it is human nature to avoid it. But by being courageous, we learn either one of two things: we learn that things are either not as bad as they seem or that we are so much stronger and capable than we realised even if things are as bad as we imagined. By avoiding, we never really learn our true capabilities.

Thank you so much Sanch. Wisdom gleaned from experience as well as learning is so good as it often  remains embedded in us.







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