I am so excited to finally let you all in on the INCREDIBLE people who contributed to this “BRAVE” series!
The next is Rachel. She is a fellow APU alum, and now works in Residence Life here on campus. I got the chance to hear her speak in the Women’s Resource Center last month, and whoa, does she have a depth of wisdom and brilliance to add to this world! She is already impacting the world with her passion and love, and I am so inspired by her!
So thankful to share her words about courage here with all of you.
I have never been much of a risk-taker. I mean, I have done some risky things, but I don’t exactly choose to participate in activities that actually risk my life or could compromise my security and safety. I have friends who have bungee-jumped and leapt out of planes to go skydiving. I know students who have gone cage diving with sharks in the Atlantic Ocean. My grandmother escaped from Cuba during Castro’s reign and my best friend picked up everything after college and moved to Australia. Those are the stories that make me think, “Oh wow, that person is so brave!” These are the men and women I think of when I want to be inspired, when I want to tell a good story about someone who displayed courage, when I want to talk about people who are more fearless than I am.
I’ll be honest. I don’t feel brave most days. I think it’s really easy for me to fall into the trap of thinking brave couldn’t possibly belong to someone as ordinary and un-famous as me. There are so many stories in my news feed or on my television that commemorate men and women for being brave because of the heroic lives they lead. So brave begins to feel like a secret club I don’t belong to, a place I don’t get to talk about, or a thing I’ll be in the far-off future once I get my life together. I’ve always believed that brave doesn’t happen in the mundane, normal parts of life. I’ve long assumed that brave doesn’t follow those of us around who sit in coffee shops and walk our dogs and have BBQs on Sundays. I work with college students and I shop at Trader Joes and I like Netflix and home cooked food. And therefore, I think I lack this title of “brave” in my life. If I’m honest with myself, I don’t even think I deserve it most days.
Today I sat in a park with a girl who is struggling to believe her story deems her worthy or loveable. We talked for a long time about how hard it is to think anything we have to say can be significant to anyone when we come from such gross places. We cried about how hard it is to influence people when we feel like we have nothing to give. I shared a lot about the secrets I dealt with for a long time. We let the tears fall and then let the sun warm our cheeks, giving us this tiny ounce of hope that things get better. As I drove away, I realized something. There’s a world full of people who would tell me to keep my secrets locked up in my closet and never open it for anyone. There are people who believe that you can only give your best self or you’re worth nothing at all. But today in the park underneath the hot California sun, I talked about all of my gross. And something about that moment gave this girl permission to talk about her gross. And for a moment, the gross felt like it had been made good. Finally.
Sometimes you just need someone else to go first.
If I’ve learned anything about being brave, I’ve learned that sometimes it’s just important to go first. It’s not important that we’re perfect; it’s important we’re brave.
Brene Brown puts it perfectly, much like she puts everything: “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
I hope you go first sometime. I hope you choose to be brave instead of perfect. I hope your imperfect bravery beckons the bravery from someone else. What are you waiting for?