What Does It Mean to Be Brave?

What does it mean to be brave?

It means to take one more step.

Out of bed. Out the door. In through the gates. Up to the cashier. Onto the airplane.

It means to push anxiety to the side; daring to take another single breath, knowing the one after will come a little easier.

To be brave is to be settled in the unknown. To be forthright and bold on a new path, treading with the confidence of an army because that is the only way something new can be forged.

It’s having honest conversations with friends and the confidence that my insecurities will not creep up on me like they once did.

Brave is calling people out when what they say hurts me. It’s having the tough conversation and facing the conflict instead of pivoting around it in an attempt to keep the peace.

It’s refraining from commenting on social media because it will do me more harm than good.

Some days, brave means choosing to stay. Even though I’m afraid. Even though I’m hurting.

Brave can take years to work up to, coming in increments over time.

My brave started when I went to counseling.

A year later, my brave was seeing a second counselor and facing the struggles I hadn’t been ready to vocalize the first time.

A few days ago, brave looked like getting on an airplane and traveling to a different country.

It was making connecting flights, and talking to security guards and flight attendants and other travelers. It was ordering lunch at the café and fumbling over my change when I paid.

Today, brave was taking my medication on time. Instead of sleeping in I got up, had breakfast, showered, and faced the world.

Tonight brave is sitting with the fear that tomorrow could be remarkably good or fearfully heartbreaking.

It’s believing that my heart has weathered enough storms that it has the capacity to hold whatever may come for it, and that there is enough faith to make it through any unexpected winters.

Brave is hoping that tomorrow might be the dawn of spring, knowing full well that I have been robbed of it in the past.

Brave is daring to believe again. Daring to believe that the light in me is greater than the darkness of my diagnosis. Hoping beyond hope that there is love and trust beyond the pain and mistakes of the past.

Brave is the purposeful decision to take the next step into the future, knowing full well you have no control over it but are worthy of every good thing.

And once you take enough steps, you look back and realize that your bravery has become courage—a virtue that is steadfast in your soul during the valleys and floods. It marks you as a warrior, an overcomer, and the person you were always meant to be.

I choose to be brave.

I swallow the courage of my past victories and let them shine from within me so I have the energy to take the next step.

I choose to be brave.

Even when my feet are shaking, the insomnia returns and I am on the other side of the world.

I choose to be brave.

When the tears come easy and the days are hard and distance pulls my heart in two.

I choose to be brave.

When my anxiety ties my stomach in knots, the panic is setting in and I can’t get the words out.

I choose to be brave.

When I am intimidated and question my worthiness and talent. When I relapse or have a tough week.

I am brave.

And that is why I will wake up tomorrow morning with the sun, and believe for good things again, and again, and again. Knowing full well, they will come.

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