You know, I was not always a brave kid. And to say that I am brave now as a maturing 21 year old man following my dreams is a statement I would not dare to make. But in just a few years, I have been blessed to see some powerful transformations within myself and the world around me that have helped me to grow personally and professionally, beyond the kid I once was, the kid who was too shy to talk, too scared to voice his opinion, and too broken to speak up.
My lack of courage and my lack of bravery almost ruined me.
I Was Completely Different
I knew I was gay when I was three. My very first memory I can recall is sitting in my preschool class, looking at a boy I thought was cute. My feelings and attractions toward my own sex have always been apparent and inherent within me. When I first recognized these feelings, I didn’t think they were wrong, immoral, or unnatural; they were just true to me and this is how I was. It was normal to me.
But then I started hearing society tell me some other things. I began to see that what I felt and knew to be normal was not the case for those around me; in fact, I began to see that I was completely different, to the point where I thought that I should be ashamed of myself.
The Fear of Being Different
That was when I let fear take over. I hid the truth of myself beginning in elementary school and began to carry the burden of a big secret that no one could ever know. I punished myself for the attractions I was feeling, praying and trying to do everything I could to change them. I neglected myself and my true heart, beating myself up and allowing the world to do the same.
I was not brave. The definition of brave is “ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage.” I had none of that. I was not ready to face danger or pain from the world when my secret would be out, even though my keeping of my secret was a source of danger and pain that I endured within myself. I was not showing courage; I was taking myself down, widdling myself down to a point that I was nothing more than skin and bones with no soul, lying on the bedroom floor.
Then, in March of this year after 18 years of denial, struggle, and pain, I realized what it meant to be brave. For me, being brave meant saying “yes” to who I was while saying “no” to the fear that surrounded me. For me, being brave meant opening my heart and accepting the scariest thing that I knew to be so true to my soul. For me, being brave meant being myself so that others could be themselves.
Once I realized the potential power this bravery had, the power to do good in the world and to shine a positive light for all to see, the fear went away. The bravery is more powerful than the fear, but getting to this point of realization can be a difficult road and a trying journey, yet it is one that is filled with profound life lessons along the way.
In the middle of the night, I came out. I wrote a letter to my family, texted my friends, and released a simple statement on social media: I am gay.
After this, I felt bravery within myself. I felt acceptance, love, encouragement, and empowerment from my soul to my heart. I felt courage to be myself, do what I love, and fight for what I believe in. I felt an inspiration to help others find the same qualities in themselves. Once I attacked my lack of bravery head on by investigating my deepest fears and taking the leap of faith to overcome them, I found myself. I discovered who I truly was and I grew, as a man and a human. Making the decision to be brave was the most freeing thing I could have done; the liberation was exponential.
Are you brave?
I tell you this small story of myself today so that you may find yourself. If you are struggling in aspects of your life, feeling like you are not sure who you are or feeling as if you are lost within yourself, ask yourself why. Why am I feeling this way? Why am I confused? Why am I lost? Then ask yourself, am I brave? Am I afraid? Am I being true to me?
These questions can be more impactful than we realize. By asking yourself the toughest questions, you might be able to uncover the root of any issue you may be facing.
So now I ask you, are you brave? Are you being brave in your life? Are you being courageous in each day?
Change Your Life
The concept of bravery changed my life and, in many ways, it saved my life. It gave me the kick in the butt that I needed to pick myself up off the floor, dust myself off, and get back on my feet. Making the conscious decision to be brave, to stand up for love, for myself, and for those around me gave me the motivation to overcome my darkest challenges and my most paralyzing fears.
I urge you to be brave. Be brave for yourself, for your family and for your friends, for your loved ones. Be brave in your heart, in your dreams, in your passions and your creativity, in your beliefs, in your ability to change the world and make the world a better place. Society can be a rough place, but when you are brave enough to step out of the boundaries to be yourself, there is truly no stopping what you can do. When you unpack and uncover your courage, your life becomes a canvas for you to paint with love and inspiration.
When you go above the bravery and beyond, you are a light. And I encourage you to shine.