on 'real' bravery

on_REAL_bravery | TheHeartMag"There are so many ways to be brave in this world. Sometimes bravery involves laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, or for someone else. Sometimes it involves giving up everything you have ever known, or everyone you have ever loved, for the sake of something greater. But sometimes it doesn't.

Sometimes it is nothing more than gritting your teeth through pain, and the work of every day, the slow walk toward a better life."

-Veronica Roth



Bravery comes in all forms.


Maybe you don’t feel brave every day, and perhaps you’ve never felt it ever, but I’m willing to bet you’ve done something brave in your life.

Know what bravery is?

It’s facing something that could take you down, and fighting through anyway.

It’s doing something really hard.

It’s pushing past being afraid and doing what needs to be done.


Fine. Maybe there are people who have done this on more occasions than others.

Sure. You don’t understand what other people go through on a daily basis, so it’s harder to identify them as brave at first glance.

But neither of those things matter honestly.

Because brave is brave.


Hard is hard. And surviving has to count for something.

Perhaps you feel like you don’t qualify as brave because you’ve never entered a burning building to save someone else. Maybe you’ve never worked in a war zone, or treated trauma patients. Maybe you’ve never survived an avalanche or the loss of a child, or been abused, or survived cancer.

Maybe you’ve never fought a dragon, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t brave.

Did you wake up today depressed and still get out of bed?

Did you play as long as you could with the kids even though the inner turmoil you’re facing made you want to hide?

Did you go to class even though you’re so behind your peers that you feel physically ill from the inadequacy?

Did you finally say goodbye to someone or something that was hurting you?

Did you tell the truth after years of hiding?

Did you show up to the gym even though you hurt from the shame you feel about your body?

Did you let yourself cry?

Did you ask for help?

Did you work for a goal that you’ve been dreaming about in secret?

Did you make the first move or love the most?

Did you forgive?


Well congratulations. You are brave.

You knew it would be difficult, risky even, and you did it anyway.


You don’t have to pretend you aren’t brave just because the demons you face don’t seem as significant as someone else’s. You have done hard things. You have survived hard things. You have much to be proud of.


And so has everyone you’ve encountered today.


It’s easy to look at someone’s life and assume it’s perfect. It takes no more than a second to dismiss the trial of someone else because we don’t get it or we don’t care for the person, but that doesn’t make their bravery any less. Just like it doesn’t make yours less.

A battle faced is bravery, friends.


A scar on the heart inflicts pain no matter how it gets there.

If at any point you’ve felt brave, if maybe you’re feeling it right now, imagine what it’d do to your heart for someone to tell you your story doesn’t equate to bravery. Oh sorry, guy, but what you’ve done doesn’t really count. It’s not that significant.

I’m just going to leave that there for you to think about…


I’m not asking for hero status here, y'all. I’m simply suggesting that we all remember the times we’ve had to dig deep just to make it through a day, and that we extend the compassion we needed in those moments to other people who need it right now too.

It’s not about whose brave is bigger. It’s not about contests or winning or comparisons. Life is not meant to be a competition for who’s survived the worst.

Every single day you’re alive presents the opportunity for you to use your heart for good. It sounds cheesy, I know, and that’s frustrating because the truth of this is so much bigger than quotables. You have the chance each day to extend love to someone who needs it—whether you understand or agree with that person or not. In your darkest times, you’ve benefited from the outstretched hand of another person, and you never know when someone else is deep in the darkness. Everyone is fighting something. Everyone is brave.