BRAVE: To Defy, challenge and dare.
When one thinks of the word brave, we think of someone heroic, such as our tireless firefighters, policemen who risk their lives daily or even a circus performer on the trapeze high in the air. These are some of the few people who earn the title of being "brave." We especially see a visual of bravery when we witness a member of our armed forces receiving a medal of honor for their act of bravery during their time in combat. I am forever grateful to those who risk their lives for my freedom and protection every day, however I am widening the circle a bit to recognize a different sort of bravery all girls can relate to.
When I was a little girl, my mom took me to the doctor for my immunizations. The nurse would always say how brave I was because I didn't cry. The first fall on my bike without training wheels gave me a pretty nasty scrape on my knee and my mom was so quick to tell me how brave I was because I didn't cry when she poured alcohol on it.
The exhilarating and scary moment when I entered my first haunted house and I didn't cry and ask to leave... my mom again commended me for being so very brave. As the birthdays go by and I get a little older those who love and care about me now use the word "proud" instead of "brave." My defining moments such as my first lead role on stage, the test I aced with an A+, passing my drivers test, graduating high school, giving my first TEDx Talk and receiving scholarships are all recognized and celebrated as a proud moment. Many of our "proud" moments in life are expectations either by society or family and peers.
There is an infinite amount of bravery that takes place between our decision making and our accomplishments that goes unnoticed. Getting on a bike with training wheels for the very first time is scary. Even though I realize my Dad is holding on and running beside me, I understand very well what could happen if he was to let go. My act of bravery shined when I got back on my bike and rode again after I skinned my knee. I knew if I went down again exactly what could happen. The same thoughts resonate when I return to the doctor's office each year to get a shot. My act of bravery was getting in the car with the understanding that a nurse was going to insert a needle in my arm and yes, it was going to sting a bit. The funny thing is this... as I repeat these things that make me brave I am no longer commended for my act of valor, it has been replaced with an expectation.
Many young girls do not consider themselves brave. They are auto tuned to look a certain way, act a certain way and if they don't, they will not fit in and be popular. To these girls it means their life might as well be over. The pressures of today's media-driven society send girls into a frenzy that creates unreasonable expectations, drama, and most of all, these girls forget the whole point that being brave can change their world in a positive way. Instead of taking risks with the objective of fitting in, take a risk by being brave enough to reach beyond your wildest imagination and see yourself as a girl that has everything necessary and know that you, as you are, is enough. You are brave when you make the simple decision of gaining knowledge as you read a new book or when you raise your hand in class when you are not 100 percent sure what the correct answer is. You are also brave when you fail and you figure out what you can do to correct your mistake and try again. You are forever brave when you lead by example and support your friends because, after all, being brave is being positive, curious, determined and well, just being YOU!
I was recently reminded how #SoBrave I am by Rachel Simmons, Alicia Menendez, Lauren Berger, Carole Baiocchi, Katzi Guy-Hamilton, Gina Kelly, Tammy Tibbetts, Dr. Dena Simmons, Lisa Tucker, and Sarah Jones. These women reminded me that being brave doesn't have to be my big movie moment, it can mean doing something that is out of my comfort zone in a positive way or standing up for my opinions even when others don't agree.
I will make it a point to remind myself and continue to empower girls in believing that we have the power within ourselves to be oh, #SoBrave.