What Bravery Looks Like

“Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” ~Brene Brown

Last week, I confessed to a dear friend that I am secretly holding onto the belief that I am the least brave person I know.

She literally laughed in my face when I said this to her.

Which made me laugh. And then made me love her even more.

Because, you know what? She’s right. I am brave. And my resistance to allowing this to be true in my life and my failure to give myself actual credit for all of the courageous things I have accomplished these past 34 years is getting in the way of doing next what it is I want to do next.

Pretending I’m not brave gives me permission to go on not being brave.

To which I say:  Fuck. That.

Courage looks different for each of us. And I think there’s a part of me that believes I’m not brave because I did the expected thing in my youth and went to college immediately after high school instead of traveling overseas or living off the grid or taking up temporary residence is some foreign country somewhere on my own.

Part of me feels like I’m a coward and that I’ve played things way too safely in my life thus far.

And maybe that’s true in certain contexts. Maybe I didn’t travel in my 20s or attend that study abroad program to which I was accepted at 19 because I thought maybe graduating from college early was the more responsible option. (Even though I ultimately decided to take the less stressful route of drawing out my senior year as long as possible. Doh.)

So, yes, I could have been more brave in certain instances.

But if I fail to acknowledge the brave things I’ve done, I’m doing myself a huge disservice. It means the next time I’m faced with the option of doing something courageous, I’m setting myself up to respond with something like, Nah, I’m not a person who does brave things.

And that’s not cool, you guys.

Here’s the thing:  I started a business on my own a few years ago with less than $5000 in the bank. Which was either really stupid or really brave. Possibly both.

I moved into my own apartment at 22 years old and lived alone for the better part of the next decade.

I’ve had my heart broken too many times to count.

I decided several years ago to figure out why I was so unhappy and to travel the sometimes terrifying path of self-discovery that forced me to confront some not-so-awesome things on a fairly regular basis in order to unravel a deeply engrained pattern of self-loathing that was clearly no longer serving me.

And just last year, I forfeited my beloved studio apartment and my many years of solo living to follow my heart and move in with a boy. If that’s not brave, I don’t know what is.

So I’m letting go of this idea that I’m the least brave person I know. It is an outdated belief that is not in my best interest to hold onto.

Are there beliefs about yourself that you’re harboring even though they clearly don’t serve you at this point in your life? Have you deconstructed them to see if they are even true?

I suggest doing so.

And if you’re struggling with this process, I highly recommend sharing one of these beliefs with a friend so that she can laugh in your face about how ridiculous it is. This might just be a total game-changer. It certainly was for me.