Bravery is a strange thing. To be honest, I haven’t spent much time thinking on it, but even my most immediate, surface-level thoughts suggest that the entire concept is open to interpretation.
I never considered myself brave. On the contrary, I’ve always been one to “go with the flow.” That’s not to say I’m not my own person; I don’t just follow the fads and do what everyone else is doing because everyone else is doing it. But, I don’t enjoy being in charge or making decisions either. Once a decision is made by someone else, I generally find a way to get on board and play my part.
Lately, though, I’ve realized that I can be brave. Leaving a damaging, unhealthy relationship was brave. It was brave to quit my job because I felt like I was getting paid (barely) to be a hypocrite every day. Deciding to push the “restart” button on my life and goals and dreams requires a modicum of bravery on my part every day.
It’s scary. It’s liberating. It’s empowering.
Sure, I’m broke more often than not; I can’t always go out and hang with my friends who are signing leases, planning vacations and generally celebrating their well-earned achievements. And, to be honest, it can really suck. Comparison truly is the thief of joy.
On the other hand, deciding to make my life what I want it to be, versus what seems conventionally comfortable, has had an interesting side-effect: I really, truly care about the decisions I make, and I’m more than willing to make them.
I’ve realized in the last few months that whereas I used to think of myself as “chill” and “easy-going,” I was really just ambivalent (which I would argue is the complete opposite of brave).
Everything seemed more or less mapped out for me. I’d had some adventures, because I was young and it was allowed. But once I hit my mid-20s, it was time to buckle-down and get serious about getting serious. The older I got, the more stuck I felt, and what’s worse, I resented myself for giving up on my once-upon-a-time dreams, simply because I let the world convince me they weren’t realistic for a stable future.
I’m not sure when or why things changed for me. I guess I just hit my breaking point? Looking back, something was bound to break – either my spirit, or my acquiescence. Thankfully, it was the latter.
Finding my bravery is an ongoing, evolving process, which can be difficult, emotional and downright messy. But more than anything, it’s vindicating. As a dear “frousin” (friend-cousin) once said to me:
“You have a Master’s degree. You have traveled the world. You lived in Chicago and D.C. If you need to be poor and not have a car for a while, who cares?”
Yeah, who even cares?! Well, for one, I do. But I don’t care about what society expects me to care about. I care about my journey. I care about finding my bravery and employing it on a daily basis. I care about being happy and fulfilled.
So, here I am, sitting in a coffee shop, in my favorite city on Earth, interacting with fellow writers whom I’ve only just met, because I decided that today, bravery looks a little like stepping outside my comfort zone to join a meetup of strangers who maybe, just maybe, are embarking on their own pursuits of bravery through their own words.