Glennon Doyle Melton over at Momastery is one of my favorite bloggers and writers (her book, Carry On, Warrior, is a must read). She is down to earth and raw and honest, but never divisive or hurtful. She chooses love above all else, and I LOVE her for that. She feels like one of my long lost soul sisters. Everything she writes resonates with me. Sometimes I want to scream at the computer screen as I am reading her posts ARE YOU IN MY BRAIN? ARE YOU STEALING MY THOUGHTS? YOU’RE CREEPING ME OUT LADY!!!
So I was surprised last night while reading her most recent post, THIS IS WHAT BRAVE MEANS. It started out like any other Momastery post read. Uh huh. I hear ya sister. Preach it. YES! I was revved up and ready to pledge my undying allegiance, that is, until I got down to around paragraph five and stumbled across this: “Over time I have come to believe that brave does not mean what we think it does. It does not mean ‘being afraid and doing it anyway’.”
I felt like I had been punched in the gut. My soul sister had called me to the mat. I mean, one of the first things people see when visiting this site is my mantra, “Being brave doesn’t mean you aren’t afraid. Being brave means you are afraid, but you keep going anyways.”
I was confused.
I was disillusioned.
I was defensive.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not a parent who thinks you should force your child, kicking and screaming to do something they aren’t ready for just because everyone else is doing it. This past spring I encouraged my oldest son when he wanted to pass on a day at the amusement park with his two best friends because extreme adventure rides just aren’t his thing. I was the hesitant, sensitive, child Glennon describes in her piece, and I know all too well the pressure I felt growing up to do things that scared me or that I really didn’t enjoy, just because my siblings or friends were doing them. I know full well the damage that can be done spending a good portion of your life listening to everyone’s voice but your own and trying to keep up, while feeling woefully inadequate because you weren’t fearless or “brave” enough.
But I also know that in order to prevent myself from getting trapped in an artificially small world, I need to drown out my inner voice of doubt and fear, and KEEP GOING ANYWAYS. Not the inner voice of doubt that is true to me, but the inner voice of doubt that is true to everyone but me. The voice of doubt that says I won’t be good enough, or strong enough, or pretty enough, or skinny enough, or smart enough, or successful enough, or cool enough. The voice of doubt that says, “What if I don’t win or I get rejected or someone laughs?” There is often more than one voice inside. The challenge is in making sure we are listening to the right one.
Glennon is right when she says, “Brave people are just people who trust themselves more than they trust the crowd.” It’s just that sometimes, trusting yourself more than trusting the crowd does mean “being afraid and doing it anyways.”