Bravery and Showing Up

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It would be presumptuous and misleading to call myself courageous. My trembling hesitancy to go near balconies of any height, refusal to watch even the lamest of horror films, and sorting into Ravenclaw House on Pottermore (that one really says something!) would easily be evidence enough for this. Truly, though, it was three years ago when I sat under covers on my bed, bit down on my own balled fist, and quietly cried over my unplanned pregnancy that I discovered that I had no spine, no backbone at all.

After a few lonely, isolated days, I retreated into myself, absorbing criticism and negativity from any source I could. After all, I agreed with people who degraded me. I thought my self-directed anger was my atonement for my mistakes… in reality, all I was doing was hiding behind my choices, unwilling to face what had brought me to a situation I did not think I could handle. When my son was born, as I quite literally faced the choices I had made up to that point, I realized something.

I was afraid to forgive myself. All of my self-pitying, doubt, and anger was based in fear of who I would become if I was a person who could live with a mistake.

It turns out, however, that everyone lives with a mistake. We do so even when we know that our happiness is fleeting and security isn’t promised. At some point, everyone has to make that choice to keep living. Which means that we all possess some kind of bravery.

Life is not as shiny, filtered, and flawless as our Instagram account makes it look. We are all trying to get it together, to figure it out. Maybe we are struggling with the maintenance of relationships. Maybe we are challenging what we have held to be true for almost all our lives. Maybe our days lack the vibrance and purpose they once held, and we don’t know what to make of the dull luster that has become our every day. We are growing old, adjusting to changes, trying to find somewhere we fit in.

The worst part is the absence of an answer. But the best part is also the absence of an answer.

For when we aren’t handed a solution, we are forced to find it in ourselves.

This is what I think true bravery is- realizing how far we are from who we want to be, and choosing to carry on anyway. Fighting back. Continuing to leave the house. Putting in some kind of effort to remain present when our circumstances feel dire. The people who are aware of the difficulty of their situation but channel the strength to keep living life are the ones who I believe are truly brave. How one person manages to perserve differs from another, but we convince ourselves to do it.

Courage, I think, does not occur in our perfection, but in our endurance. We all have it in us. We’ve all made it here; we’ve all showed up for something in our lives in spite of a misstep. We have what it takes to live flawed lives and dare to appreciate them.

We only have to make the choice to press on.