How to be brave (and what does that mean)



Let me tell you a secret: bravery is not the absence of fear. While you let thank sink in, allow me to elaborate.

 

I fear many things. I fear rejection, I fear failure, I fear something terrible happening to me or my loved ones, especially right now with what’s going on in the world. I also have this weird fear of sea food in shells even though I love sea food (cue hubby having to peel my dinner for me, in restaurants and at home. Trying not to laugh. He’s a keeper.). And you know what, that’s normal. You’re supposed to be afraid of things.

 

Fear is a vital response to physical and emotional danger – if we didn’t feel it, we couldn’t protect ourselves from legitimate threats. Like if I didn’t run away from a potential assailant I might get really hurt or in worst case scenario, die. That sort of thing.

 

Obviously, there’s other kind of fear as well. Like, sometimes we fear situations that are far from life-or-death (like being afraid of saying something silly in a meeting and everyone looking at you funny), and that shit hangs you back for no good reason. Traumas or bad experiences can trigger a fear response inside us that are hard to subdue, and anxiety and depression are a chapter all on their own.

 

But even if you have every single rational and irrational fear in the world, you can still be brave.

 

 

The Oxford dictionary primarily defines ‘brave’ like this: “to be ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage”. And whereas that sounds super scary and makes you think you can never be brave ever ever ever, hold your horses and other racing animals. To be ready to face and endure danger or pain doesn’t mean you’re not afraid of said danger or pain, it means you do it anyway.

 

It means that your heart is throbbing in your throat and your palms are sweaty and in your head you’re going “oh my god oh my god oh my god” and all you really want to do is run away… and then you get on that stage / speak up in the meeting / get on that amusement park ride / take the metro / hit publish on your blog anyway.

 

It means that when you’re scared to get out of bed every morning because the world is such a terrifying place, you hit those slippers and a morning brew like a boss.

 

Or for me, it means that even though asking for help for my depression and suicidal thoughts almost made me paralysed with fear, I spoke out anyway. The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do (and I have done a lot) was to pick up that phone and admit to someone I wasn’t well. So yeah, I know. It’s not easy.

 

There are lots of quotes about overcoming fear so I will spare you the clichés. No one becomes brave overnight just because they saw this inspirational quote on someone’s timeline. That’s utter rubbish.

 

Being brave doesn’t mean just one thing. Sometimes being brave means being the person who stands out in the crowd, who speaks up, and who must be a voice, either the voice they need to hear, or a voice for others. Sometimes bravery means having the prudence to pause, allow others to have their say, to sit in silence, and to be okay (or not). Sometimes being brave means putting up the fight of your life, or raising up the proverbial white flag, accepting defeat, and finding the will to move on from that defeat.

 

So how can you be brave? You can start by realising you’re already brave.

 

You might suffer with crippling anxiety or depression, but you are here, in your life, living it every day, trying to make every day better. That’s brave.

 

You might be terrified of the terrorist attacks of late but you go to work every day, earn a living and use that living on anything you damn well please because fuck you terrorists. That’s brave.

 

You go on about your daily life, making sure you and your loved ones are safe and cared for. That’s brave.

 

So let’s all collectively stop thinking that bravery is something only people who sacrifice everything without ever feeling any resentment about it (I hate those guys too) or that you have to not be afraid or anxious about anything in order to reach this blessed state of bravery. Let’s stop thinking we need to perform some special, predetermined act in order to be brave.

 

Especially in light of recent events, just going on about your life is already brave.

 

Be afraid. Be terrified. Be horrified. And then do it anyway. If not this time, next time. And hey, guess what? Keeping on trying is also brave.

 

You got this. I promise.

 

 

  • I live with anxiety in my daily life. I hate it, but I know that I can be brave everyday. I love this post!

  • I love your post so much. And lollll at your husband peeling your seafood for you! It’s really eye opening to actually read the definition of bravery. And I know what you mean about asking for help. I went through something that seems somewhat similar just a few weeks ago. But once I was brave enough to ask for help things started to get better. You’re not alone <3 thanks for sharing!

    Michelle | She’s Not So Basic

  • Fear is in each of us. Some mask it with false bravado and others just push through it ot let it consume them.

  • It is important to be brave and step out of your comfort zone.

  • Aica Batoon

    Such a wonderful and very timely article.. I have been depressed too, and all I felt and thought was I was weak. But it’s true, I started realizing that I am strong and brave – also because I have God with me. Thank you for sharing this!

    xx Aica B. http://www.aicabatoon.com

  • Heidi Schilling Fowler

    I’m so glad you were brave enough to make that call! I was 8-months pregnant and working in DC on 9/11. A few months later, when my daughter was a newborn, I lived in the area where the sniper was taking pot shots at random people on the street. I remember being terrified to leave the house. I learned to trust in God. Not that he would take away everything bad in the world — but that he would be right by my side through whatever trials would come. That’s true peace.

  • Cindy Nicoletti

    I am only brave if something is going on with my children. Otherwise I wish to be brave !! but I am not and that is ok.

  • Megan

    I struggled with fear more after having my children than ever before. It can be debilitating. Thank you for such an inspirational post!

  • Hannah Chau

    Fear is one of the biggest thing stopping us from becoming great. Fantastic arrival!

  • Rachael

    This is a great post — thanks for putting yourself out there so other people don’t feel as scared to do the same!

  • Kaylee

    This was such an inspirational post and very well written. I love your thoughts on the meaning of being brave.

  • I hear you. I have depression and anxiety and being brave can often mean getting out of bed or going to a meeting that you are dreading. It could be anything, thank you for this beautifully written post x

  • Such a beautiful post, this! I have been there too, I know exactly how it feels. We just keep going on. Keep being strong!

  • Sondra Barker

    This post was such a mood booster, I loved your inspirational message. I have never looked at bravery in such like but it is such a great way to put it. Lovely post!

    prettyfitfoodie.com

  • This is an inspirational post; especially for those with anxiety. I’m a counselor and will share with my clients; its such a helpful article that is easy to related to. It’s easier said than done but we can’t live our lives in fear. Some how we have to beat the negative self talk and fear so that we can enjoy moments in time.

  • Beth Davidson

    I’m one of those people who always expects the plane to crash or a tidal wave at the beach, but I get on planes and go the beach anyway. No point in not living just because you’re scared.

  • I love this! I try to step out of my comfort zone once in a while. Most of the time I’m so glad I did it!

  • This is a great post. Really relatable and helpful. I think it all depends on motivation and if you’re ready to stand up to things. xx corinne

  • Shannon Patterson

    Great post! It’s trure that you can be scared and brave at the same time.

  • Robin Rue

    Part of me needed to hear this today. I have been struggling finding the motivation to do something I really, really don;t want to do. I think I just have to go for it.