Stories of Courage: Krystal Tan
Editor’s Note: There are many forms of courage and this series seeks to convey them in a relatable manner. In our second story, I hope you find an appreciation for a very subtle kind of courage—one where it doesn’t demand your attention boldly. It is quiet—and it’s just there. Sometimes, the most beautiful human acts in life aren’t obvious, but they can be the most intimate and truthful.
Writer’s Reflection: When Wy-Lene approached me to contribute to this series, I’d be hard-pressed to say I didn’t struggle with the theme. A story on courage? Written by myself? It felt a little awkward having to think about myself for days. Who am I? (I had to ask)—a woman, who’s spent her whole adult life to date lawyering for seemingly endless days/nights and while, in the last few years, bootstrapping a boutique travel business on the side. Yet, I didn’t want to define myself and build my story on fearlessness around my work. What about the other quirky interests I had? Neither did I want to write about any single, isolated happening which unravelled in a display of courage—because courage, to me, should be innate to an individual’s mental schema, resonating in one’s personal approach to everyday circumstances. It shouldn’t declare winners or belittle anyone. My story of courage is really about being and embracing the now.
If you’re expecting to read about a single, life-changing act of valour, well, I have never saved the proverbial cat from a burning building or any damsels in distress à la James Bond. Instead, my story explores a series of understated displays of fearlessness in my journey of self-discovery. These expressions could be hidden, somewhat underwhelming and, with the right attitude, comical at times. These examples spring to mind:
1. I’m a hypochondriac, and at times, this drives my boyfriend mad. From questioning the type of solution to wash fruits and vegetables with to spending hours in the grocery store reading labels, my “paranoid android” self risks losing points in the love bank with him each day.
2. I’m never quite contented with my sense of being and circumstances. I’ve ruminated for many years now to close friends and family about my life’s calling and whether to take the plunge from a platform of stability to experiment with my life. My overthinking ways have led me to make some progressive changes, and these are not the best parts of me my parents would be proud of.
3. I can never sit still and am constantly seeking out new experiences. This has taken me to some very remote places in the world—the paths of most resistance, I like—the more inaccessible, the better. This is never particularly kind on my wallet; the conscience of my parents; my extremities which are at risk of falling off from frostbite and the well-being of my travel mates who sometimes prefer to bum on a beach with a piña colada.
In spite of the above, I try to convince myself that it’s simply me charting my own path, and to be contrarian is to be lonely—and perhaps some may see courage in that.