Vulnerability is not today’s prompt, but it occurs to me…the subject of today’s prompt, bravery, is inextricably linked with vulnerability. When was the last time you did something brave? What happened?
Is it terrible if I can’t remember the last time I did something I would categorize as brave? My fuzzy memory may be due to a lingering cold medicine hangover; or another late night listening to Mr. Upstairs Neighbour trudge around noisily until midnight (just when I gather the courage to go up and give him a piece of my mind, you know, be brave; he quiets down). Or is it because my personal feelings of bravery don’t have much to do with heroic acts (i.e. the super-duper cliché act of saving someone from a burning building) one usually associates with being brave?
In elementary school I was teased a lot, and one day the ringleader of the girls called me a loser. I responded by telling her that just because she was a bitch, it didn’t necessarily follow that I was a loser (stooping to her level of name-calling may not have been the right way to handle things, but she was being a bitch and I call it as I see it). That may have been one of the first times I remember doing something brave. I stood up to her and in the process lay myself open to so much immaturity - more name calling, exclusion, and schoolyard antics. Yet I found myself with a smaller circle of friends who decided to stray from the bitchiness and said bitch didn't much bother with me after that.
Years ago, while traveling in Africa, I called my parents to let them know I changed my flight and would be coming home a week later than my original return date…because I had met a guy (one day I'll give that story the words it deserves and share it with you, it was surreal and kind of amazing). Big ups to my parents for having a calm, rational conversation with me. I’m quite certain when their 25 year old daughter (who had never before left Canada) called to say she would be spending a little better than a week with a 30 year old winemaker from South Africa, they wanted to lose it (and probably hop on a plane to drag me back to Canada on schedule). Just a wee bit of bravery on both fronts there - my very lovely parents who bravely trusted I wasn’t putting myself in the hands of a serial killer, and I made a choice in the name of love. The search for love takes a fuck-ton of bravery to open oneself up to. Genuinely opening yourself up to someone - laying your true self bare - is fucking scary. It takes all kinds of bravery and courage to love.
I once threw myself off a bridge, bungeeing 216 metres into a gorge on the coast of South Africa, all in the name of conquering my fear of heights and spiting the asshole ex-boyfriend who swore I would never go through with it. (I may have sent him a picture of me jumping in an email with the simple subject of “And you said I could never do it.”) Choosing to face one of your greatest fears, all the while leaving yourself open to the possibility that the fear might conquer you instead? Brave.
I’ve spent a lot of time afraid of vulnerability. In relationships, with friends, and definitely when it comes to putting my thoughts to paper and letting anyone (and everyone) read them. But as I’ve sat here and fired off this post, I’ve realize the times I’ve let myself be vulnerable and open are the times when bravery and courage have risen up. And not once have there been negative consequences.
P.S. - On rotation today (and on repeat a few times) is this little diddy, enjoy.