Today I would like to spend time on talking about something also rather unusual: Bravery. I don’t know whether you can relate to this, but when I was younger, I always dreamt of being this brave person, fighting for themselves and just doing what they wanted to. We all know these people. They don’t care what others tell them, they step up for themselves, regardless of what threat they are facing. This might seem really impressive at first glance, but I think we are often idealising this, because I would consider it pretty stupid to act cocky in a life or death situation. It is okay to prefer peace and harmony (believe me it took some time until I learned this), but I still find myself impressed once in a while when someone acts brave, just because I often can’t.
My personal struggle with speaking up
I do wish I would stick up for myself more often. It is as if I am silencing myself sometimes, because I like everything to be in harmony and want to avoid fights or even disagreements by any means possible. I want people (often those I don’t even know) to like me, even if it means that I have to shut up once in the while.
Why I choose silence sometimes
One of the main reasons it is so hard for me to contradict someone, is that talking openly about what I think, also makes me vulnerable. It might be a weird thought, but I think it hurts more if someone attacks my opinion, because it is so closely connected to my thoughts and therefore me. I know that I take everything too personal, since critique usually goes under my skin even though I know it should not, but it’s not that easy to stop.
I mostly silence myself when meeting new people I am not very well acquainted with, but with whom I have to work (e.g. a project at Uni). It is very hard for me to tell someone that they are not doing good work or that they are too lazy or that the way they are planning it just won’t work or is not what was asked for. I just would feel way too bad saying those things, so I don’t. I usually am open with my family and friends, but if my family already is fighting, I know very well that my opinion on the matter might just throw fuel into the fire.
Difference between family and strangers
I do think that it is really important to differentiate between loved ones and new people here. Strangers are not necessarily there for your opinions, thoughts or your personality. You often have to work with them and only see the during a short time interval, where you have to work as a team. It does not matter what their views on climate change or LGBTQ+ rights are. When talking to your family and friends, however, this becomes an entirely different discussion. They will be there for a long time, often even a lifetime, so you probably do not want to build those relationships on false assumptions. Of course, that does not include minor things such as what movie to watch or where to order food, but your major opinions and topics that are important to you, should be in the open.
I am giving in to the people I love around me sometimes (emphasis on giving in, not “being silent”), because I want to see them happy. I don’t like to fight and am a diplomatic human being. Even if I would prefer Chinese food, I will not make a fuss when my brother decides he wants Italian. But I won’t lie when they ask me what I think about politics or other important stuff.
Accepting how it is
It took me quite a while to understand that it’s okay, that not everyone has to fight everyone and everything that does not confirm their belief system completely. I know that we really need people that can take a shot and fight until the end, but that simply is not me. I could become this person, but I would have to sacrifice a lot of things that I am not willing to sacrifice. You can become this person, if you want, but you also need to know that you don’t have to. Not everyone can or has to be the lion.
The only exception from what I said above is that you do have to stand up for yourself when someone is treating you unfair. It is okay if you let some things slide, because you don’t have the time or energy for a fight, but it is not okay when someone hurts your feelings or is disrespecting you. Everyone deserves to be treated with basic human decency and everyone who does not treat another person respectfully, has to be called out to that.
A final note
Bravery of course does not only include standing up for yourself, it also involves millions of other actions, which can go under the radar quite often. I think opening up towards other people is something that really requires courage and strength as well as doing something that is far out of you comfort zone. Committing to someone or something can be really scary as well. People who dedicate their life to something they believe in, are incredibly brave in my eyes. Also, do not forget about everyone who suffers from a serious illness like cancer or have mental disorders. Those people are being brave every day, just by getting out of bed and fighting whatever they are dealing with. Parents are brave every day, especially when they are starting to give their kids more freedom and choose to let them make their own experiences.
As you can see, braveness can often be in the little things and everyone should give themselves credit for their actions, even if they are only a little bit brave. Just try to be proud once in a while!