Safety Nets, Disney Princesses, and #TheYearToBe___ Brave

Storytelling conventions tell us that to be brave, we must do things that put us in peril. Things like fight dragons. Moreover, it’s not enough to just fight these dragons; we must do so without fear. Google, on the other hand, tells us there's nothing more to being brave than a 2012 Disney film--it takes up the first fifty bajillion hits.

If you follow me on twitter, you might have seen—amongst all the ridiculous things I tweet—a brief conversation I had with Audra North, writer and totally amazing woman, about being brave. Somewhere along the shame-guilt spiral that “deep thoughts” usually engender within me was this one: it’s a lot easier to be brave when you have a safety net.

I’ve been putting off writing this post. Yes, yes, I realize it is only the second #TheYearToBe___ post. But I put it off because I’m afraid of the topic. With that, I realize I’ve essentially exposed myself as decidedly un-brave.

Everything I’ve done that might be described by others as brave has been done with this big, cushy safety net beneath me. One that I’ve made use of on more than one occasion.

Does that make me, and my actions, less worthy? I’d like to think not. But I’m also not sure I’ve done anything that falls into the range of true bravery.

I know all too well, though, that sometimes, just getting out of bed in the morning is the biggest, gnarliest dragon I’ll face.

Dragons come in all shapes and sizes. Bravery is relative.

If anything, musing about what it means to be brave this week has helped me understand the need to be kind to one another. Our dragons aren’t the same. But we’re out there, fighting them. Every day.

I look to my left. A woman with a soft grey sweater, curled over a now-cold cup of coffee, is reading something on her phone. Who knows what her dragon is? I certainly don’t. But I know she has one.

List your dragons, but don’t compare them to others’ dragons. Give yourself permission to be kind to yourself. You’re in for a helluva fight.