What is Courage?

First, I want to say thank you for the tremendous love and support from everyone after my last post. I am struggling to find the words to describe how blessed I feel to have such wonderful people in my life. With that being said, I have a bit of a more reflective post for today.

After the outpouring of support I received via comments, Facebook, texts, etc., I noticed a common theme. Many people commented on my strength and courage to get through such a horrific time. That is true, I would agree that I have become a stronger and more courageous person because of what has happened to me and how I have chosen to deal with it. However, I also believe that every single person we encounter– whether they have been through a troubling experience similar to mine or not– is incredibly courageous. We all have the courage to get out of bed in the mornings and face this messed up world. We all have the courage to fight our own battles, whatever they may be.

Who defines courage? What defines courage? What makes me courageous because I could survive a sexual assault, write about it, and share that writing with the rest of the world? I am no more courageous than my peers or my parents or my teachers. I am no more courageous than a man begging for money on the street corner or a little girl riding her bike for the first time. We are all courageous in our own ways. It’s not about what you’ve done or where you’ve been. It’s that you were, at some point, able to face adversity with perseverance.

If I have learned anything in my short 19 years on this earth, it’s that everyone has fucked up shit going on in their lives. (Please excuse my language, it felt necessary.) I’m not telling you anything you don’t know already, but sometimes it’s nice to have a little reminder. Every day, every single person wakes up and fights a battle. Some people fight battles within their own heads, others within their own homes. No matter where or what these battles are, everyone that is able to learn a lesson from a mistake, able to thrive after tragedy, able to smile when things don’t go their way, is incredibly courageous. I think sometimes we get so wrapped up in other people’s lives being “more tragic” or things being “worse”, that we don’t realize the courage and strength we have within ourselves.

One of the first things my dad ever taught me was relativity. Nope, not Newton’s theory, but the absence of standards of absolute and universal application. For example, just because Bill Gates is rich doesn’t mean that I’m poor. It means that because the circumstances of our lives are incredibly different, we are unable to adequately compare our wealth. I believe that the same thing applies to a concept like courage. Even though I’ve been through some tough things in a short period of time, that doesn’t mean I am any more tenacious than anybody else in my life.

I am humbled by the support I have received from people over the course of my lifetime, especially last week. You guys are the reason I have developed into such a strong individual. But I do believe that it is important to remember that we all have this tremendous strength and courage within each and every one of us, regardless of the things we’ve been through.

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