Being an only child, you tend to rely pretty heavily on stories. When there are no other little kids at home to play make-believe with, you instead learn to talk to Barbie dolls and re-watch the same VHS tapes to pass the time. And in those stories, we follow closely behind princesses and knights fighting ultimate evil--masterfully swinging swords through the air or defying destiny in the rawest form of bravery. Relying on these imaginary settings, I grew up thinking you could only be brave if you slayed the dragon, but since becoming better acquainted with adulthood, I've learned that bravery is rather ordinary more often than not.

To me, bravery can be as simple as being passionate. It's not apologizing for the music you listen to and squawking along to the radio. Bravery is telling your parents that instead of pursuing a stable office job, you'd rather move to the city and write for a living, even if it means waiting tables in-between freelance work. Bravery is saying yes as often as you can, but having standards set that require a "no" on occasion.

Bravery is refusing to wait half an hour for the boy that was late picking you up, because deep down you know your time is more valuable than that. Bravery is sitting on a therapist's couch because you've finally come to terms with the fact that you need help mending yourself. Being brave is being told by a professional that you're mentally ill, and even though you can't seem to find any source of light, you get out of bed anyway. Bravery is raising your hand in a two hundred person lecture because you had a question about last night's reading and making yourself vulnerable to your wisecracking professor's berating humor. Introducing yourself to a potential friend or cute boy, even though the anxiety racing through your mind is sending up dozens of red flags.

Bravery isn't always jumping backwards off of the high dive and performing in the school talent show. Our society praises those that can put themselves out there like that, but that isn't any reason to be discouraged. True bravery is knowing who you are and what you want; bravery is refusing to deviate from your core values to please others or fit in to the crowd. 

So go outside without makeup on. Tell the guy on Twitter making sexist jokes exactly how you feel. Stop giving a shit about that time you embarrassed yourself in seventh grade. Walk away from those who just want to dull your sparkle. 

Be brave.


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