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Be Brave

Updated: Sep 17, 2022

Think there's a typo in this photo? Keep reading...

It had been one of those iconic New York days with Julia, one of my best friends who I don't get to see very often. Every year we make time, buy a planet ticket and meet in New York to catch up and leave our lives behind for a couple of days in the city that never sleeps. That night we were determined not to let the day end so when we got back to our hotel, we ran up to the rooftop. The expansive patio sat empty in the the below freezing winter weather. We stood in the cold, taking in the skyscraper sights and catching glimpses of Christmas tree filled apartments.

We got out my camera and started experimenting with light writing. We went through a variety of words until I had one I really wanted to do. I struggled getting the letters to fit in the frame and Julia grabbed the flashlight and gave it a whirl.

Determined, she started spelling out the word, which confused me because I could tell the letters weren’t in the right order. She finished and the camera clicked off, we stared at the word now displayed before us, in big, bold letters it read “BARVE” (see actual picture above). I lost it laughing and so did Julia as she realized what had happened. In her excitement and and rush to go for it she had completely misspelled the word, “BRAVE”. What I thought was so funny was that she was so bold in it, hardly realizing what she had actually written until the photo was in front of us.

I think that’s sometimes how it works in our lives, you have every intention of being brave, writing that word boldly into your story and it comes out more like “barve”, i.e. not quite right. Recently I had a huge barve moment. There was a difficult conversation I needed to have. I had everything i wanted to say in my head and marched into the room with all the bravery I had gathered. Well, I sat down, got distracted and ended up bumbling my way through it. The words came out, but they were out of order order and sounded flippant as I worked to combat my total loss of any idea what I was doing there. I walked out pretty defeated and feeling little to none of the closure i was hoping to achieve. Total barve moment. In the aftermath I’ve spent time thinking about it and here’s the thing, I was still brave. Sometimes bravery doesn’t end up looking how we want it to look and that’s okay, it’s still worth it and here’s why:

1. Being brave is not dependent on the outcome of the situation. Things won’t always go the way you hope they will. Whether words don’t make it out of your mouth or they do and they aren’t well received, you don’t make the team, you don’t get the promotion, pay raise or that relationship back, you were brave. Don’t ever doubt that. To stand up for yourself, to speak what you feel needs to be said, to set boundaries, to act with integrity and authenticity can sometimes put us in front of rough situations and conversations, but no matter how it all turns out don’t ever question for one second that you were not brave. One of my favorite quotes to hold onto is, “Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes”. Let your truth fall from your mouth, even if your voice shakes, for a shakey delivery does not discredit the bravery it took for you to speak.

2. When things go more barve than brave, it’s a chance for us to practice equanimity. If this is the first time you’re hearing this word, don’t worry it’s new to my vocabulary too. Equanimity has become one of my favorite words recently (like I want to tattoo it on my body and decorate my room with “#equanimity” hipster signs like the good millennial I am) mostly because it is a skill I'm not strong at. It’s the idea that no matter what is going on around you, you are able to stay stable in yourself.

My favorite metaphor I’ve heard to illustrate it is a mountain. A mountain takes in sun, rain, wind, snow and yet even though the mountain may adapt in seasons those seasons never move the mountain and the base it’s built on.

In the aftermath of these “barve" moments I freak out. I usually have to call my best friend or mom and rant until I get everything out of how badly I screwed up or how not okay I am with what happened. It can bring down my whole day, sometimes my whole week. Here’s the thing though, I’ve come to learn my peace in life is far too valuable to throw it out the window in moments of freak out and when being brave has turned into being barve. In the middle of these moments here is your reminder to breath and say “this too shall pass”. Every yucky feeling, every moment of embarrassment, feeling of inadequacy, they won’t stay forever, so don’t let your mind get stuck in it. That is equanimity, that is growing.

3. I believe that the more you’re brave, the better you get at it. It won’t happen overnight or even a few instances of being brave, you’ve got to keep taking steps forward, keep being brave, even when it’s hard. I’ve been a people pleaser my whole life and in a way being brave can sometimes mean doing the opposite of that. Establishing boundaries or gracefully calling out others when they’ve hurt you, asking for what you need because you’ve got a right to watch out for yourself, or communicating feelings, is okay. Trust me, it’s something I’m still working on, but I’ve promised myself I will not stop being brave and neither should you.

Bravery has show up in so many forms in my life recently, so many people who are living brave lives and guess what… bravery looks different for each person and in each of our lives. So go be brave today, in little ways and big ways, in whatever way brave means to you. Be smart and be brave and don’t worry about the “barve” moments, you’ll learn, grow and probably get a few laughs out of it along the way and that’s life.

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