People would tell you to toughen up. They will constantly remind you to be strong and to never let yourself crack—to never let that vulnerability be seen, to let yourself remain unbroken, unhinged. People would tell you to be all these because they want you to be brave. But the truth is—being brave could mean many things.

Yes, you are brave when you are strong. You are brave when you go through the dark without the lights on. When you can sleep in the woods with the wolf howling—you are brave. When you are walking down the street at 3 in the morning, never looking back, just walking straight ahead—you are brave (also—let’s be honest—a bit crazy, but that’s a whole new different story).

But you are also brave when you are able to make some changes in your life. When you are able to look life right in the eyes and say, “I’m going to create ripples of change, and I’ll start with myself.” It’s important to recognize the things that we can do, and the things that we cannot. It’s important to understand that not everything has to be grand—that every change starts with something small, a hopeful idea, a vision. It’s important to know the significance of our insignificance, the devastatingly beautiful smallness of our beings.

You see, you are brave when you try something new. When you are so scared you never knew when the right time was for you to jump and take a leap of faith. But you see, that is also the thing about being afraid. There never was a right timing. The minute you feel scared, that’s the moment when you take giant leaps into the unknown. It is in allowing yourself to recognize the gut-wrenching feeling of being afraid that you truly find yourself—that you knew in that moment that you have the ability to go beyond your comfort zone, that you have the capacity to exceed your own expectations, that you can rise above the surface-level feelings of what being afraid entails, that you can be—above all else—brave.

The thing is you can be brave even when you let yourself be soft—when you let that vulnerability settle in through the cracks. When you open yourself up to another person, when you let trust be the foundation of a relationship, when you let that someone else be your backbone, your rock, your pillar of strength, and ultimately when you let that someone be your person.

You see, when you open yourself up to the world, you open yourself up to the many things that can and will hurt you. You open yourself up to emotions—the many in-betweens of nothings and somethings, of wanting and needing, of the hopefuls and the hopeless. You open yourself up to a world that can cause you pain, to people who have the capacity to leave when all you want for them to do is stay. You open yourself up to a world where you know nothing of what happens next—where the unexpected is a thread that slowly unravels, allowing a story to unfold right in front of you.

You see, when you open yourself up to the world—you are brave. Because the world is a place where the unknown resides, where darkness can be found, where chaos is inevitable. But you, my dear, are the wonderful paradox that makes the world go soft. You are the familiar despite leaving a zone that brings you warmth and comfort; you are Light in a place where the overwhelming void surrounds you. You are—above all else—the calm, the peace, the tranquility.

Brave is a beautiful word, often misunderstood to be one thing and that thing alone. But brave does not always equate itself to being strong. Because brave is many things—it is a gentle soul that softens the world, the light that goes in through the many cracks which life misunderstood as the brokenness of beings but what you have always known to mean as simply being human.


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