What does it mean to be brave? To me, I think it partially means that you can face something that is hard and conquer it, push through it, or finish it. I’ve been told a few times in my life that I’m brave.
“Oh, you’re starting a new blog? That’s brave.” All I can think of is, why is it considered brave? Because I’m putting myself out there? Even if no one reads my blog, it’s mostly for myself, so I don’t particularly consider it a brave move.
I used to do stand-up improv at a nightclub. I was told I was brave all the time for doing that. “I would be too nervous that I couldn’t come up with something funny,” or some such comment. Again, since even improv works within a certain set of boundaries or rules, I still didn’t feel like it was very brave. All I had to do was get on stage and basically say yes to everything, and go with it. I do that all the time as a mother. Go with it, I mean, not say yes to everything. Definitely not that.
I was told I was brave for doing a triathlon. That was definitely hard work, but again, I did it to prove to myself that I could. And then once I did it, I never did another one, probably because I had proven my point to myself and I didn’t want to go through the rigorous training again. Hey, it was hard!
I took Wing Chun Kung Fu for several years. I even met my husband there, which I will never regret. It’s a combat martial art, and you definitely learn how to take a punch. I’ve been punched so many times, it doesn’t make me flinch anymore. Might that be considered brave? I don’t know. Any time one of my kids jumps on my lap, I wince in pain, whether it really hurts or not.
So yeah, I’ve done some things. But I’ve also wimped out of a lot of others. At the beginning of my marriage, I thought I wanted to be an herbalist. I paid money and took courses and even got certified. Yep, to this day, I’m still a certified herbalist. I had a dream of creating my own herbal line for women. Never did it. Didn’t have the confidence.
I also talked about creating a YouTube channel for mothers who want to learn more about makeup. I even went so far as to purchase the equipment and make an introductory video. But then it got really hard. I didn’t understand the editing software and it got too frustrating to continue, so I pooped out of that as well. Not very brave. Or maybe I’m confusing bravery with commitment? Either way, ppbbtth (that’s my blowing raspberries sound).
When it comes to dealing with crises, I’ve been brave and I’ve been terrified. When my 11yo daughter fell into a fire pit FACE FIRST, I totally lost it. Her hands had severe burns on them that we had to deal with for weeks, and I’ll be forever grateful for my husband’s quick Kung Fu reflexes that had him pulling her out of that fire before her face was burned. That was a horrible experience. I don’t like thinking about it, but it could have been a lot worse, but each time I remember it, I wish I had held it together more.
I’ve also had seven surgeries, and been told I was brave for it, though I had little choice in any of them (except perhaps the dental one. (I had a tooth grow the wrong direction and lodge in my jaw)). The surgeries were nothing to me. I’m no stranger to pain, physical, emotional or mental. I’m a partially healed PTSD-ridden ball of fibromyalgia.
What constitutes a brave person, then, and why is it something that I aspire to? Enough that I’m actually writing about it. I want to be considered brave. But I think in the end, that bravery is all subjective. I cringe at heights, but I don’t consider myself scared of any particular animal. I can sing in public, but can barely walk across the grocery store in my workout pants, for fear that my butt might jiggle (spoiler alert: it always does). I can paint my face with tons of makeup to post a selfie but I never go out in public without my makeup on.
Anyway. I don’t really know that I have a conclusion. I guess we are all brave in some things and cowards in others. If we never push ourselves out of our comfort zones, though (like I did with the triathlon), how do we grow? A lot of the “brave” things I’ve done, I did to prove to myself that I could. What did I gain? A sliver more of confidence, perhaps. A desire to see what else I can conquer, for certain. And hopefully, a chunk of character that I can add to my …whatever.
In retrospect, I’m not sure why I used the picture of Merida for this post (except maybe to break copyright laws…). She’s my favorite Disney princess, not because I think of her as brave, but because I love how she is capable, free spirited, and certain about who she is and what she wants.
Sometimes I think that’s what true bravery is. The ability to be completely unapologetic about yourself without fear of judgement.
It’s a component, at least.