By Gicelle Quitangon
I am a firm believer that the moments we feel our bravest are the times where we build up our character and reaffirm our most vulnerable desires. Beyond that belief, there is much about the nature of bravery I wanted to know. What are the boundaries, if any, to bravery? Is there specific criteria to call someone brave? And to answer these questions I sought out to ask people for their own experiences, thus the question was born:
“When was the last time you felt brave?”
I wanted to share some of the lessons I learned about bravery from the responses I received.
Sometimes bravery is the scene we only think happens on the screen…
“I was scuba diving. When I looked down below me, I saw sharks everywhere. In that moment I felt brave and wanted to get closer.”Ashlyn Robinette, 18
“I took over the wheel of a boat from the driver to avoid a collision.”Darlene Loesing, 55
“I decided to move to a new country and live alone. I had always fantasized of moving out, dreamed of it every single day, but I never had the guts to get up and leave. Somedays have been hard, while others have been the best of my life.”Fernanda Galan Martinez, 19
…while sometimes bravery is facing our everyday life with confidence.
“The last time I felt brave was the other day when I was wearing my favorite outfit: a square-neck cream-colored blouse that flattered my figure, my favorite pair of high-waisted jeans, my platform Dr. Martens and my favorite pieces of jewelry. I noticed that, whenever I wear that outfit… I feel invincible; like I can accomplish anything.”Annette Garcia, 18
“Everyday is a new adventure. I never know what new craziness [my daughter] Jamie will get into. Or what new policy at work will have to be enforced. Is today the day someone will try to rob the pharmacy? Is today the day someone will flip out because they are forced to wear a mask? Everyone is brave. There is something that each person has to overcome each morning to live their lives.”Claudia Quitangon, 38
Bravery can exist anywhere even in a professional setting…
“Today! I had an interview with the State Press and I also have a job interview. It may not seem like a big deal, but it’s hard for me to put myself out there. I’m very introverted; however, I always gain the courage and force myself to be outgoing because I know the outcome will be worth it!”– Angelina Steel, 18
“The last time I felt brave was when I needed to give a presentation at work on a topic. I’m not well versed in. It was quite intimidating with an audience of high level executives. I prepared and asked for volunteers to respond to my rehearsed questions. It went great! I felt accomplished and realized that I can rise to the occasion regardless of who is in the room!”– Michelle Oliverio, 44
… or a casual setting.
“I went on a fishing trip with a friend who was bringing their child for the first time. There are stones to step across, but it’s still risky for getting wet, falling in and getting hurt. I went across first with most of the stuff and dropped it off then met my friend halfway on the stepping stones to get the baby. We are at both standing on the stones that one would need to hop onto in order to get across. So here he is stretching his son across to me and I am reaching as much as I can to grab him. He pulled his son back when I almost had him, terrified that we weren’t going to be able to do it and his son would get hurt. I yelled, “Give me the boy!” His son laughs and smiles with his arms outstretched, completely clueless of how incredibly terrified we both are. I snatch him up, carefully maintain my balance to turn around and cross the stones to the other side.”– Tasha Telles, 35
Sometimes we’re called to be courageous for ourselves…
“I ran my first marathon! I woke up at 4 a.m., lined up in my assigned corral, and at around 5 a.m. I began running. Starting a race with a group of people, knowing that not everyone would be able to do what I was doing in their lifetime. Running through the quiet city of San Francisco, while everyone else was still sleeping, knowing that I am pushing myself physically and mentally to endure the next 26.2 miles.”-Antoinette Escobar, 29
“I had to tell my father that I did not want to live with him anymore and that I was moving out, there was nothing he could do about it.”– McKenzie Cluff, 18
“When my family got in a big fight, and my mom took me to my room afterward and we started yelling at each other. I never really speak my mind around her or start conflict so it was kinda new for me.”–Phoebe Oliverio, 17
…and other times we have to be brave for others.
“I chose to speak up about [my brother’s suicide attempt] because his attempt was in part due to racial harassment in our school district (we’re Black). For four years I mostly kept it to myself because of the very hostile environment there. I felt unsafe talking about racism until I graduated in June. It’s still a very traumatic experience to relive, but my old classmates needed to know the environment they cultivated.”–Malia Wilson, 18
“I felt brave when I told someone to quit smoking. That feeling of witnessing someone going down the rabbit hole again takes over and allows for bravery to flow. After, I felt a strange sense of fear and boldness. An odd combination, but I think that combo creates bravery.”–Terrell Stratton, 18
And finally, some people had words of wisdom to impart about courage themselves.
“There’s that quote that says that bravery isn’t the absence of fear, but doing something in spite of your fear. My act of “bravery” didn’t quite work out, but at least I can say I tried.”-Morgan Charboneau, 18
“This was really hard to answer because we all do brave things every day, and who’s to say that hiking 100 miles in the desert is any more brave than sending a text to someone you’re scared to talk to. I also think it’s much easier to see someone else and think ‘Oh they’re so brave, I could never do that’, than to look back at the things you’ve done and experienced and see yourself as brave.”–Shea Sullivan, 18
Bravery takes on many different faces, and when it is understood that it lives in each and everyone of us, a sort of empathy can be found. When going through these responses and writing this article I gained a lot of respect for these people. The people quoted in this article revealed some of the most vulnerable parts of themselves: their fears and their desires. Ultimately, that is the nature of bravery; when what you desire becomes more important to you than what you fear.
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