Learning to be Brave

I have a confession to make, even though many people think I am super brave because I can move overseas to strange countries at the drop of hat, and I have work hard to create an Indian Jones-esque persona, I am not very brave.
I walk with a lot of fear and uncertainty, and that is probably natural considering I grew up with an abusive, mentally ill father. Uncertainty was a constant companion and yet it’s one that I can’t get used to. Living in China doesn’t help much, with the fact that time is very fluid here and things generally don’t get done, or you don’t get told about them, until the last minute, add to it that the system of government here seeks to control people, uncertainty is a stunningly good tool to utilize in the pursuit of that goal. I don’t think that the uncertainty bothers the Chinese as much as it does the expats, mainly because we’re not used to the idea of random raids on bars for no reason or door to door drug testing (I have heard, though can’t confirm, that the police have lately shown up on the doorsteps of certain foreigners demanding urine samples for drug testing), or the random and sudden demolition of a favorite hangout or place of business. While none of these things directly affected me, hearing about them from the various expat news outlets only served to make me feel like the sky was falling ( all these things, I think were part of the run up to the One Belt, One Road Summit, so things should be cooling down later this week (don’t worry Mom)). Needless to say, I haven’t felt very brave lately, instead I have felt very much like a scared child trying to escape the latest outburst of anger from his unstable father.
Then it hit me, maybe bravery isn’t not being scared, angry, frustrated, what have you, by the circumstances. Maybe bravery is continuing to put one foot in front of the other despite not knowing where that foot is going to land. Maybe the point of bravery is action rather than lack of fear. I think Winston Churchill may have said it best when he said: “If you’re going through hell, keep going”.
The world is a scary place lately and our own woundedness only seems to amplify its effect on us, but the beautiful thing is that regardless of how we feel if we keep going, we are brave. Most of us are super brave and we just don’t realize it. It is the ability to keep walking even when your figurative guts are hanging out and you’ve been beaten to a bloody pulp by life. Bravery is not about how you look or feel while going through something, it is about going through something and continuing to keep going. We are braver than we know.


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