I’m not fearless.

Have you ever wondered whether there is a difference between the words “brave” and “fearless?”
I always used to think they were alike, but only somewhat recently did I realize that they were opposites.  I used to strive to be fearless once, but now all I strive to be is brave.

To me, the word “fearless” is an absence of fear.  That you aren’t held back by any fear whatsoever, and are free to do whatever you want to do.  It used to be my goal to be fearless, and I thought it was something high to attain that would take years to master.
That’s when I realized what I should have been reaching for all along was bravery.
To me, “brave” doesn’t mean an absence of fear, but a choice.  A choice to push on and do whatever you are setting out to do, even if you are terrified or shaking in your feet or clouded by doubts.
Brave is a choice to push past these feelings and decide that what you want is bigger than your fears.

So I have let go of trying to be fearless.  There are choices I make in which I am afraid, but despite that, I push on, because I know it will be worth it.
Bravery can come in all forms, big or small, whether it’s going up to a stranger and saying hi, or leaving everything you know and moving across the country for college.
Personally, one of my bravest moments was deciding to go on a month long pilgrimage this past summer.  Although I knew people going, and was excited at the idea of traveling different countries, anxiety put a raincloud over me until it was hard to concentrate on anything else.  To lots of people the situation would just be exciting, but to me it was one big anxiety trigger.  But despite all that, I didn’t let my fears and anxieties hold me back.  I pushed past and was able to go and have some of the best experiences of my life.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with trying to eliminate fears.  But it can be unrealistic to try to force yourself to not be afraid, and have no fears, for something scary.  I see bravery as the alternate of taking a deep breath and saying, “I’m afraid, but that’s ok.  I can do this.”
So next time you are faced with the prospect of doing something but you are afraid, be brave.

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Alive.

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I was created to be alive.

With every first breath in the morning-eyes fluttering open, hands stretched high, mouth twisted in a yawn.  The signal that I have made it through the night to live in another day. We have no guarantee of tomorrow, but we still set alarms.

With every stomach-knotting laugh, so deep in love with life and it’s moments it feels as though every fiber of your being is getting pulled.
With every beautiful person-the stranger who offers a smile, the faithful friend who holds your hand amidst the storm you are weathering.
With every mistake and wrongdoing- when words fly out of mouths unhinged, when yelling becomes the only form of communication because all words have run dry.
With every accomplishment-hands held high, shrieking in joy after winning the game.  Smile spread wide after seeing the A you poured night upon night of studying a textbook for.
With every tear.  Tears of happiness when you look in the mirror and realize you’ve recovered.  Tears of pain.  Silent sobs into a pillow, and stomach-churning sobs, sliding down your bedroom door, when the only thing you can see is darkness.

With every heartbeat, heartbreak.  Knowing they are yours, and the realization of simply thinking they were.

No, I was not created to be stagnant.  I was not created for comfort.  I was not created for only the good.  I was created for the ups and downs, highs and lows, hills and mountains.

I was created to be alive.