Most of the time, I don’t feel very brave. Not like other people. I hear of people who do things, like really DO things, and my first thought is never, “that sounds awesome, I want to do that sometime,” it’s always, “oh, I could never do that.”
It doesn’t matter what it is. Bungee jumping. Flying in a hot air balloon. Giving a speech in front of a huge crowd. My gut reaction is just...that’s something other people do. Not me. Some people are brave, doers, leaders, but I just, well, am.
I suppose I’m brave in other ways. Smaller ways. And maybe those are just as important. But sometimes I feel like that the things I do that make me feel brave are just everyday occurrences for other people. Things like interviewing someone at work for the first time, or standing up in a company meeting to make an announcement, these things seem to come so easily to other people, people devoid of social anxiety or fear of public speaking, people who don't like or need to practice saying important things before they say them.
Small acts of bravery, though, sometimes that feels like enough. I stood up at my grandmother’s funeral once, walked to the front of the church, and read something I wrote, something completely personal, in front of an emotional crowd. That’s the first time I’ve ever read something I’ve written out loud to other people and not been focused on the words I wrote, or whether or not people will like them. I just wanted to share something about the person I loved who was no longer there.
I went with my parents and sister when Ripley was put to sleep. To this day, that’s the first and only time I’ve ever witnessed a death (excepting TV deaths, of course, but that’s obviously not the same). I dreaded this event, for obvious reasons, but also because I was terrified of seeing Ripley die. What would it look like? How would I react? How would my family react? I went, though. I felt like I had to. I had to be there for Ripley, for my family.
Maybe that’s it, then. I have a hard time being brave for myself, but I manage to be brave if it’s for someone I love. Which is a nice thought. I’m not sure if it’s true or not, but I like it. I wonder if this is true for everyone? It’s so hard to put yourself out there just for your own benefit. How often do we cheerlead our friends and family, believing that they can do anything, and yet we can’t do the same for ourselves? I know this isn’t any kind of revelation, but we need reminders that we can do things that we might not think we can do. Maybe I can learn how to fly a plane. Learn another language. Give a speech to hundreds of people. Or ten people, even. Baby steps.
We need to give ourselves more credit for small, daily acts of bravery. Not everyone is going to get the chance to save someone’s life or put out a fire or stop the zombie apocalypse (though I really hope someone can do that last one). The rest of us need to be happy with daily bravery. It’s just as valuable, really, if you add it up over time. So we should probably start keeping track, just in case we’re being graded.