Posted on 03 November 2017
A word not commonly spoken in the world today and generally used interchangeably with bravery, so much so that it is mostly associated with knights, and valor, and chivalry (which may not actually be dead). A word that feels like an homage to days and dreams passed, meant to be posted with a highly saturated Instagram filter and perfectly captioned to capitalize on the most likes.
To anyone familiar with her work, either her viral TED talk or her many amazing books, Brene Brown (the millennial generations modern day profit), defines courage from its original Latin root meaning “to speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” And, through all of her work, she goes on to explain what exactly she means and how it can be applied to all aspects of our life through the practice of vulnerability (the most important modern day virtue)
And for the most part, I vehemently agree with her definition and identify with Brene as my spirit animal. But if I could suggest one thing that was missed is that it is not just telling all one’s heart, but rather being one’s heart; The ability to allow the beliefs and person in your truest soul to become every fiber of your being, an unapologetic version of yourself; the truest and most difficult form of vulnerability.
In total truth, I started writing this post quite some time ago. I had recently quit a corporate job, not because the company or the job or the people but because it wasn’t giving me the sense of fulfillment that I always said was going to be a key part of my life as part of the work force. I left this job, I thought, to pursue all these amazing artistic dreams that I had been holding onto for so long. There were a couple of opportunities that had come up that felt too serendipitous to say no to and so I took a chance and exited stage left.
So as life goes, most of those opportunities that I left this job for didn’t really pan out, which I try to always tell myself to mean that there is something bigger and better out there waiting for me. But I continued to push and pursue the various things that had been a part of my life for a while and that I felt had given me fulfillment, especially during my college years. And here we are, or rather here I am, a couple months later to say: I am F-ing confused.
I followed these roads that I had been on for awhile, and though I don’t like to admit it, my friends and family will tell you that it was a lot of different roads AKA I do too much. But like I briefly mentioned before, during four years of college I rode the wave of 4-hours of sleep, ran from Dance class to ‘normal’ class to meeting to work to volunteer to more class and…(well you get the point), but I rarely had a day where I said, “I really don’t like anything I’m doing.” And that’s not to say that that’s how I feel now but to say that right now I don’t feel any type of way---good or bad---about really much of anything that I’m doing.
I share that story to tell you that when I left my corporate job, I equated it to courage albeit maybe a little drastic. And to many it was a courageous choice. But it didn’t really, and still doesn’t really feel like a courageous choice, because I’m up against what I think is far more difficult predicament, which is the courage to be alright with the unknown, to wake up and carry-on with my day without necessarily knowing where I will land in five years, let alone in one.
The millennial generation takes a lot of flack from those that came before us for our sense of entitlement, our “special snowflake”-ness, our need for technology, etc. (insert something about social media and everything else that’s wrong with the world today). And don’t get me wrong, I definitely think there are some things that went array with our generation: I don’t think that everyone should get a trophy and I vehemently stand by phones away at the dinner table (to name a few).
But what people don’t ever think about is the strength it takes to be present and honest and you in a generation counted in likes, comments, and views. The courage it takes to decide a college major when you know the workplace is going to be an entirely different place by the time you leave school. The courage to not know what you want to do with your life and the strength to admit how lost you might feel. The courage to go against the grain and pave your own way or even the courage to be okay with not paving your own way. Or to simply walk out the door and be comfortable in your body and your clothes when every two seconds there’s another shoe release and a new fitness instagrammer popping up.
I’m quite sure someone, somewhere, reading this will take it and it will somehow end up on some sort of Tomi Lahren-type show where it will be dissected and pulled apart to analyze how whiny and self-serving I am. But what I really hope that it does is makes someone realize that in the world today the courage to wake up everyday and go about the world as we know it, as you, is the most difficult thing that we are all fighting. And I hope that each day that courage gets stronger and stronger so you can experience the best part of your life: being you.