Monday, April 16, 2012

B is for Bravery

Those that know me personally are probably completely shocked and surprised that my "B" isn't "Books." Though I love them fiercely... another topic has been more relevant lately.

I've been thinking of bravery a lot since the beginning of April and what that really means. There is the obvious bravery such as a fireman rushing into a burning building to save someone or a cop going into a dangerous situation, scared, but knowing that it's the "right" thing to do. Those are also heroic moments... but I'm not speaking of those.

Merriam-Webster defines bravery as the "state of being brave: courage." They also say that brave means "having or showing courage."

So does that mean that confronting any fear is an act of bravery? Things like confronting your emotions, standing up for yourself, setting boundaries, or being honest with yourself about yourself... or even scarier, being open and honestly sharing your emotions with another. Is that bravery? What if it's the thing that scares you the most in the world... the exposure of your naked, unfiltered self, is it bravery then? And for that act of bravery, should one expect a reward? Some sort of payoff? Or is the act itself the payoff, the simple knowledge that through the sharing, growth took place? Should that be enough?

Change requires a huge amount of bravery. It's scary to let go of the familiar and take the leap into the unknown, not knowing whether a net will catch you, you'll be given wings or if you'll be smashed flat on the rocks and left there bloody and wounded. I carry the scars of being smashed flat, but a few moments, too, where I've been given the wings to soar.

For me, trust does not come easily. It never has. There is always a tiny but persistent part of me that fears rejection or the confirmation that I'm not worth it... whatever "it" is: the energy, time, effort, love, etc. Trust requires every ounce of bravery that I have. I have fought hard and spent many an hour in a therapist's office to overcome some of that fear. I'd recently been able to push against that fear and meet it head on. I didn't feel brave. In fact, I was scared shitless; but I allowed myself to open up and be exposed. I can't say the end result was as I'd hoped or expected, but I am richer for the experience. And perhaps next time the fear will not be as great, the dragon will bellow a little less fire and there will be more steps in that bridge that I'm required to cross. Perhaps next time I won't be considered to be quite as brave.

"The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it." 
                     - Thucydides (Ancient Greek historian  and author (460 - 404 bc))

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