When I first started talking about coming to Ireland, reactions were mixed. Polite enthusiasm, genuine excitement and encouragement, jealousy, and many aghast reactions underlined with fear and doubt.
Mostly, I brushed off the reactions because I’m not here for them. I’m here for me.
One of the most common reactions I got – and still get from people is the sentiment that what I am doing is so brave. I mostly feel like I ran away from my life because I didn’t know where else to go…
I’ve always found it to be such an interesting comment. Not because I think it is untrue or misplaced necessarily. I just don’t feel like what I am doing is especially brave.
Bravery is different for everyone. What makes someone brave is standing up when faced with adversity, facing challenges head-on and moving forward even though you don’t know what the outcome of your actions will be.
I look at the people who surround me and I see bravery. Real bravery. Here are some of the many examples:
I have friends and family who are raising kids. Some of them have more than one. Some of them have four kids. The idea of having one child makes me nervous. The idea of caring for four human beings is unfathomable for me. I can barely keep a plant alive. You are brave.
I have friends and family members battling disease. Cancer, COPD, diabetes, and many more. Some of these are lifelong battles, others, hopefully short-lived. These individuals and those that love them are brave.
To those battling inner demons – diagnosed mental illness or not. I know the daily struggle you face because I face it too. Some of you are struggling more than others, but everyone fights their own battle. Pushing forward, talking about it, or even just getting up in the morning when it seems impossible. That is brave. You are brave. You are also not alone.
Friends and family members pursuing their passions, not knowing if it will ever be lucrative. Those that don’t know if they’ll ever make a steady income from their craft. Some don’t even know where their next meal will come from. That drive. That commitment. That is brave.
And the opposite. Those who stay in the jobs they hate because it allows them to care for those they love and be more available when they are needed. To you, I recommend trying to find something you love that also allows you that flexibility, but I recognise your commitment, and I see bravery in that sacrifice.
To the people living in grief. To those who are missing lost souls. I cheer on your determination to keep their memories alive, to celebrate the person they were all while struggling through sadness and anger just hoping to get to the other side. You are brave.
To my friends and family entering new relationships, diving in and giving it their all. I admire you. It has been a very long time since I shared my life with someone and I’m not sure it will be so easy to enter a relationship again. I applaud your willingness to keep your heart on your sleeve and move forward with vulnerability. You are brave.
To those of you picking up and leaving when they no longer feel safe, respected, loved, or inspired… you are brave. It takes guts to walk away and let it all be in the past, no matter what. Rebuilding the physical aspects of life like moving and getting new furniture, and rebuilding the self-confidence.
Some of you are facing addiction. Your tenacity and commitment to quitting is sometimes unsurpassed, but every effort is important in recovery. I applaud you and am encouraging you to take baby steps if you have to, and keep moving forward. You are brave.
And to those of you brave enough to purchase a couch… you are essentially champions. I have never owned a couch, and the idea of committing to a style and colour and size is very daunting. You are brave.
All that to say that everyone fights a fight. Everyone is faced with a mountain of their own. It is up to us to remember that and lift each other up when bravery is faltering. We can lend our bravery to others when we need it. Seeing the bravery in others makes the world more vulnerable, and in my opinion, sharing vulnerability leads to stronger and more uplifting relationships. That leads to more positivity and ultimately a better world.
So be brave. Be vulnerable. Share all of it with the world. The world needs it, and you do too.
*** For those of you struggling to the point that you don’t know where to turn to and are giving up hope, I share this link. It is a crisis hotline website that will locate a phone number you can call no matter where you are in the world.
YOUR LIFE COUNTS, YOUR LIFE MATTERS