Some things are easy to understand and describe. A rose is a rose and a nose is a nose after all. However, other concepts are more difficult to interpret. Trust is one of these concepts. Understanding is another. Then again, bravery might be the most difficult word to comprehend. What makes one person brave and another not? How can the word bravery be defined?
Many people hold a common misconception about bravery. They believe that bravery is the same as being without fear. But being brave and being fearless are two different things. Many people skydive, do public speaking, ask questions, or enter relationships not because they are unafraid but because they are willing to overcome this fear. Or perhaps they are willing to go ahead despite the butterflies in their stomachs. To some, this is a foreign concept that prevents them from trying new things. However, others understand that “bravery is being terrified and doing it anyway,” as Laurell K Hamilton said. Being brave is ignoring fear for a moment and carrying on.
Bravery is also closely tied to selflessness. The book Divergent by Veronica Roth describes bravery as being the ultimate selfless action. The lead character states that “selflessness and bravery aren’t all that different.” Bravery is when you put yourself in danger to help or protect another. Mothers are brave when they give up sleep in order to comfort their child. Teachers are brave when they give up their own time to improve their teaching. Firemen are brave when they rush into a building to save someone trapped inside. Bravery is taking a risk to give something of yourself in order to make life easier for another.
Above all, bravery is instinctual. It is something that cannot really be thought through. Oftentimes, bravery is a spur-of-the-moment emotion that leaves little time to think your actions and consequences through. Brave people don’t hesitate. They can leap forward when others are still working their way through a problem. In order to be brave, one should not overthink situations. It’s an instinctive action that just happens. If you talk to someone that has just performed a brave act and ask them why they leapt into danger, their response is often “… I don’t know. I just did it.”
If there weren’t any brave people, the world would be a much different place. Perhaps it would be a sadder one, lacking in policemen and nurses. Bravery is essential for humans to work together and for the world to continue to change and grow.
I have often been a fraidy cat about the simplest things. I remember back when I was a child and being frightened of leaving home to go to school — it was as if I feared that my family would not be there when I got back from school or that I wouldn’t know what to do in school. All my life I’ve had similar fears about many things — being able to do a good job and succeed at my work, worrying whether I’d grow up to become an independent individual who could stand on his own two feet. And, each time with each new worry, I would somehow find a way to master my fears so that they wouldn’t interfere with my life. I didn’t want to lead a life of fear, I wanted instead a life of joy and accomplishment and for the most part that is what I was able to achieve — although it never was easy for me.
I do believe that deep down each of us is brave in different ways and in different situations.
For example, there is the person who saves another person’s life, such as when someone falls off the subway platform and the other person rescues him.
Then there is the person who finds the courage to leave his or her country in order to go to another land and start a new life. That person is very brave, too, because starting a new life in a strange land and with a different language is very, very difficult.
Then there’s the person who is very shy, but who leaves the house in the morning to try to find a job and make a living. He somehow overcomes his fear.
There is the mother or father who works very long hours at a hard job in order to earn money to help support the family. That person is very brave, too.
There is also the person who is afraid of the local bully, but gathers his or her courage to stand up to the bully and tell him off.
So tell me about your own life and the time when you were brave. What was the brave deed or act you did? How did you feel – frightened or confident? Was it hard for you to be brave?
Or, if you wish, write about someone you know who has done a brave deed. Tell me who that person is and what he or she did.
Remember, too, that being a writer is a brave thing to do — it shows you are willing to think deeply about important things and express them in words that may be read and heard.
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