I don’t know about anyone else, but when I consider the idea of “To Dare” my initial thought isn’t of courage and spellcasting. Sometimes, this isn’t even my second thought or my third.
No, the first thing I think of is the childhood game we used to play, Truth or Dare.
The premise of the game is simple, you get a group of people together, kids in our case with a minimal amount of adult supervision on overnight girl scout gatherings and birthday slumber parties. Then take it in turns, selecting 1 person and asking them the question – Truth or Dare?
Do you want to give a truthful answer to whichever embarrassing question we give you, or do you want to take the forfeit and do the equally embarrassing dare?
To Dare, in this regard, was not a positive thing, it was not a sign of courage, nor was it a sign of facing an impossible situation and daring to change it. Nope, to take a dare denoted a lack of courage, and an unwillingness to answer a question honestly, with the knowledge that you would have to undergo some sort of humiliating endeavour (humiliating in a way that only 10 and 11 year old girls could think up) to somehow make up for that lack of courage.
Taking a dare in this situation wasn’t an act of courage. I am not brave enough to face your question, so I will accept your dare instead.
Then we have the double dog dares. The challenge to do something incredibly stupid, or be labelled a chicken by your peers. As a child, this might have been a dare to traverse across a beam spanning the middle of your grandparents’ barn, then jumping into the truck willed with soyabeans underneath. As a teenager, it may have been a dare to try drugs or alcohol for the first (or 10th) time, or have sex for the first time. Here, there is a slight shift. Because I am not brave enough to stand up to your challenge and say no, I accept your dare instead.
As an adult, oh as an adult things are much more hidden, but the “I dare you” mentality still exists underneath a veeer. We may not be sent out on snipe hunts as a dare any longer, but we can still get caught up in this idea that we must do something that could harm us emotionally, physically, or mentally because our friends may not like us otherwise; we must strive for something not because we need it but because the neighbour already has it and we can’t be viewed as inferior to them; we must stay in an abusive situation because we don’t want to be labelled a failure.
Gradually, my initial ideas of what it means To Dare are changing. It’s still my first thought, but my second thought brings to mind the motto of the British SAS: Who dares, wins.
Ohhh – now this is more like it. This doesn’t have the negative connotations of my initial thinking. This is the dare of facing a challenge and besting it. Of facing a question asking for truth, and seeking a truthful answer. Because sometimes, life says to us: Truth or Dare? And when tasked with giving a truthful answer, we don’t know what that is. She who dares look inside herself to find truth, wins.
Yeah, I like that.
Do I dare face the shadows? Do I dare seek my own truth?
And so finally, I am brought to the idea that To Dare can be a sign of courage and strength.