Thursday, March 19, 2015

Be F*cking Brave

Earlier in the week, during a phone call with my mother about how things are going for me in this new life, she commented that she admired my bravery— that I took risks. This comment got me thinking a lot about bravery. It isn’t that I hadn’t been called "brave" before. After going through the coming out process and being vocal about it, I had many people suggest that I was brave. But I’ve never, never-ever, thought myself to be brave. Cautious feels more like a more correct description to me. So when my own mother made this remark, I was taken a little aback by it.

A few days later, I came across this on my Facebook feed:

When I read this meme, I began to understand why I might not identify with being “brave,” even when others suggest that I am. What is broken in the world that we equate living an authentic, fulfilling life with “being brave?” Bravery is, by definition,  "the quality that enables someone to do things that are dangerous or frightening.” Why should it be dangerous or frightening to live a life of integrity and value? Shouldn’t it be more dangerous and frightening to live a life that isn’t our own, pretending to be a person we really aren’t? (Anyone watch Orphan Black? haha)

But then I remember what it was like when I was in the closet. I was so desperate to be “normal.” I spent so much energy trying to fight against myself and reject who I was-- to be someone else. It was exhausting. It sucked the life out of me. Still, I was almost 25 years old before the agony of living that life grew greater than the fear of accepting myself for who I was. Once I did accept myself, however, it became almost immediately clear that the only way to live was authentically.

Perhaps those that think it brave to be your true authentic self haven’t had their own “coming out” yet. I don’t mean coming out as gay, I just mean coming out and living their true identity— whatever that looks like— in spite of fear of rejection. But as someone who has “come out” and who knows that there is no substitution for a life of authenticity, the greater fear now is the possibility of not being able to sort out and free myself from the parts of my identity that are due to cultural conditioning and shallow social constructs.

So while my actions may appear to be brave to some people, in reality they are only the result of my fear of not living a completely authentic life.

Something I've begun to do lately is read poetry. I plan on sharing some of my favorite discoveries on this blog at some point. And while I am no poet, I enjoy the challenging process and made an attempt at it. Do your best to withhold judgment:

Do not think me brave.
That I scoff at danger,
and chase the rush of thrills.

These eyes are alien to me.
They search endlessly
for some invisible unknown.

Perhaps it is in the ever-expanding heavens.
Or in the deep blue of the roaring oceans,
full of mystery, and of hidden titillating worlds.

But it ne’er be in the morning still of the lake.
Nor on the white frozen plains, hard like glass,
bound to echo the longing gaze of hungry eyes.

No. I cannot be still, not now.
Contentedness is to forever be a stranger—
A fate most terrifying.

Therefore, do not think me brave.
It is only all that I can bear.


  1. The 17 line poem gives more a direct window into the context of your feelings than an hour on the telephone. That is a gift, and it is well done. You are as brave as being authentic as you are in sharing your poem here. If there are more like it, one would hope you'd unleash them.

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