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.