Bravery, Life, and Another Effing New Year

by P. Braithwaite

My mother always tells me I’m brave. Now, I don’t take this very seriously, she also says I’m careless, impatient, and prone to bad moods (hi mom). But, with regard to bravery, she has remarked that I’m unafraid to try new things, go new places, and take risks. I’ve never really committed to this idea that she has about me — this vision of an explorer in a strange world, unafraid of the challenges that lie ahead.

So many things scare the f*ck out of me. There are so many places I’m afraid to go.

An old boyfriend used to wrestle with me — like full out WWF-style sparring. We’d attack each other when the other least expected it. While one of us was napping, or watching TV, we’d take the opportunity to strike.

“You fight like you can’t be punched in the face.” he once remarked.

He was right.

At the time, he meant it as a criticism. He was trying to warn me to raise my fists, to block more diligently, to expect to be hurt by my opponent. I did not heed his warnings. I threw my entire body into harms way. I tried to scratch, bite, and maim with no finesse or skill. More often than not, this did not work in my favor. I’d end up twisted in some sort of pretzel, being coaxed into saying ‘uncle’ or ‘you win.’ But in those moments, when my neck was being crushed between a forearm, or my head found its way underneath a chiseled thigh, I’d remember: kamikaze-style bravery can end up horribly horribly wrong…

…But that doesn’t mean that it’s not worth it.

In the upcoming year, I wish you bravery. I wish you blind, obnoxious bravery that, at first glance, appears foolish. I wish you the ambition to make mistakes and the generosity to forgive yourself. I pray that you fight in this life like you can’t be punched in the face.

Bruises heal.
Time mitigates pain.
We’ll all be fine in the end.

I hope you let go of things that haunt you, as you begin to see yourself. I hope you express yourself loudly as if no one in the room will judge you. I hope carve out the space to heal — even if healing disrupts the status quo. You deserve the right to heal wholly and completely. I wish you the bravery to scream, and courage to be quiet — alone — and selfish.

…I wish you bravery to love yourself.

I hope you have the courage to be still and rely on people who love you the most.

I wish you the bravery required to let other people in.

I pray you have the bravery to own, nourish, and be yourself. But most of all, I wish you the foolish childlike magic — reckless, doe-eyed ambition — to believe in the wildest dreams you have about yourself.

Those dreams are leading you to greatness.

Happy New Year, Friends.