I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be brave lately. Unequivocally and unapologetically brave.
I remember when I was five, my dad sat a very terrified and nervous me down right before my first tee-ball game and told me something that has stuck with me ever since. “Kiddo, it’s okay to be scared,” he said. “But if you allow that fear to sideline you from doing something, anything, you’re ultimately giving away your power. And bravery? Bravery is your superpower.”
Papa Hansen from the top rope amiright?
The truth is bravery is a daily choice, a practice, an opportunity to look fear in the face and do the damn thing anyway.
It’s also so fucking hard sometimes.
The Oxford dictionary primarily defines ‘brave’ as the following: Ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage. According to its definition, there are two primary parts, two very crucial ingredients to being brave – the ability to endure, and courage. I might add that when one is brave, two of these qualities have to co-exist, and they are both of equal importance.
IN ORDER TO UNDERSTAND BRAVERY, ONE MUST FIRST UNDERSTAND ITS OPPOSITE – FEAR.
Fear. That dirty, four-letter word. It’s a creeper, a prohibitor. It’s an enemy, and a cruel one at that. Most people don’t like to get to know their enemies, but I am of the opinion that one must not only know their enemies, but also understand them.
If you search “How to overcome fear” on the Googles, InstaFaceSnapBooks and other areas of the inter-webs, you’re bound to be hit with a kajillion inspirational quotes (I love me a good cliché y’all, but for all intents and purposes, I’ll spare you). The most profound thing I have learned about fear in my 30+ years of life is that there really is no escaping it.
BUT KNOWING THAT FEAR IS INESCAPABLE IS EXACTLY WHY BRAVERY IS A NECESSITY IN LIFE.
When I think of all the people in my life who have been brave, and who continue to be brave (you know you who are, you da real heroes and I am forever inspired by you), I realize that bravery means many different things, to many different people, in many different moments.
Sometimes bravery means being the person who stands out in the crowd, who speaks up, and is a voice – either the voice they need to hear, or a voice for others. Sometimes bravery means putting up the fight of your life, and fighting till the very end.
Sometimes bravery means going against adversity and owing the remarkable person that you are. Sometimes bravery is taking down those walls and opening up your heart at the risk of it being broken.
Sometimes bravery is simply getting up every day and going through the motions, despite the hurt and pain and struggles you’re going through.
Sometimes bravery means to search for the things and the people who make you feel alive; to take chances, to be a long shot and an outlier. And sometimes, bravery means to be grateful with the state of your right here and right now.
BEING BRAVE DOESN’T MEAN THE ABSENCE OF FEAR – IT MEANS HAVING THAT FEAR, BUT DOING IT ANYWAY.
Was five-year old me scared walking up to that tee-ball tee for the first time? So much nervous sweating, y’all.
And do I still get take pause and get a little (or a lot) anxious anytime I’m standing on the edge of a mountainside ledge, or right before I give a big presentation, or attempt something knowing that I might fail and fail harrrrrrd at it? Absolutely I do.
But you know what, that’s okay. That’s good, great, even! If you’re afraid, it probably means you should do it. And the more times you do it, the less scary it gets.
Being brave is hard, but so is living a half-life based on fear. So do the things that scare you, and take those risks.
After all, that is our superpower.