Reverb 13 | December 3 | Brave

Brave: What was the bravest thing you did in 2013?

On the Bravery Scale, I am at “Won’t Cross the Street Anywhere but a Crosswalk AND That Crosswalk Must Indicate That It Is Safe To Walk. And I Am Still Looking Both Ways to Check for Cars.” No cars in sight? Still waiting for the happy green walker.


I don’t ever feel particularly brave, but I thought, I must have been brave some time this year. So I went back through my calendar, dismayed to find that no where had I written in bold, red writing KATE WAS BRAVE TODAY! with a confident circle marking the day triumphantly.


What does any resourceful millennial do when they don’t know the answer to something? Consult The Google. And in the simplest of Google searches, “What is bravery?” I found this quote:

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Nelson Mandela

Bravery is not fearlessness or recklessness. And it’s not even confidence. It is doing what you know to be right even when you are feeling afraid and cautious and timid. I also read that bravery is steadfast, enduring. It is not overcoming fears once or twice, but repeatedly. Even when it’s hard. And that made me think that bravery is probably a lot quieter than we all think. And it is probably in us and among us much more often than we perceive it.

People are being brave every day!

We probably all know someone at work or in school or in our group of friends or in our family who is being brave everyday. When I stopped thinking brave meant rushing into a burning building to rescues kittens and started thinking about the little ways someone might be brave, I started to identify a lot of people I know who are brave. And I started to identify a few of the ways I have been brave this year, like:

  • I tried downhill skiing again for the first time since I was 8. I cried.
  • I went mountain biking for the first time. I don’t remember if I cried, but I wanted to.
  • I went surfing. I cried.
  • I completed a half-marathon when everything was against me: an injury, somewhat poor preparation, a terrible course, oddly steamy weather. At mile 11, I cried.
  • I went on a treacherous and strenuous hike for 2 days of my honeymoon, giving up precious beach and mai tai-drinking time. I also cried on this trip (but only for 30 seconds or so).
Being brave!

Crying is my fear bravery language.

I think, on the day-to-day stuff, I am still trying to parse out the difference between responsibility/ethics and bravery. Maybe they aren’t all that different, bravery is just doing it instead of knowing it.


3 thoughts on “Reverb 13 | December 3 | Brave”

  1. I feel like I’ve been much braver in the past and playing it safer in my old age (of 27) but the bravest thing I did this year was probably standing up against my abusive ex in court. I had to testify over two days and it was enough to make me want to rip my skeleton out of my body (somehow that seems like a really accurate description of my feelings). And you know what? I cried too. And I was scared. But I think you and Mandela got it right– it’s not the absence of fear, it’s acting in spite of it.

  2. That is awesome that you did all of those things. Downhill skiing? Oh my god, I would never do that. It seems insane to me, I would just be going down the mountain of my death. Everyone is brave in different ways though. Good for you!

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