I have been brave for a very long time. In general, I’m a pretty bold person.
I’m usually the one in the group that takes a risk. The one who puts herself out there and asks the uncomfortable question. Risks embarrassment.
I’m incredibly independent in certain ways. I learned a long time ago that you really couldn’t count on people to always be there. Not really. And it was more efficient to learn to depend on myself than to try to get everyone around me to do what I wanted them to do.
In terms of reassurance, this meant I either would go without validation — or I’d try to reassure myself when I needed it. Reassuring myself often felt weird — kind of like how holding your own hand isn’t the same as holding someone else’s.
So I went years sometimes just feeling very uncertain. Very insecure. And having to be very brave, pushing through those doubts and not letting it get in my way of at least trying to build a stable life in all the logistical ways.
Meanwhile, I did see other people who wouldn’t stand the slightest inconvenience — who expected other people to constantly adapt (no matter what it cost those people) to meet their smallest gripe. And it would seem like we were living on different planets. It was always interesting when I had someone like this as a metamour. The fairy tale princess who couldn’t stand a pea under layers of mattresses. And our shared lover would be amazed at the differences between us. How I was generally tough, took care of myself, didn’t expect someone to mess their life up for me.
I’ve never connected it to being brave. Not until recently, not until I was talking with a friend about it. And it all snapped into sharp relief.
“Does it ever strike you as unfair?” they asked.
“Does what strike me as unfair?” I replied.
“That you always have to be so brave. That you can’t just rearrange everyone around you to assuage your fears.”
“Good use of ‘assuage,'” I said. We had just been talking about vocabulary-building programs, after all.
“Nice dodge,” they replied. “But you should answer the question.”
I laughed. “I dunno about unfair,” I said. “I don’t tend to think of my own life in terms of fairness and unfairness. I more try to deal with what’s realistic, what’s in front of me. But…”
“I’ll admit I’ve definitely had days where I’ve thought to myself that maybe I don’t want to be brave anymore. Maybe I want someone to take care of me for a bit. Take a season off. Be a sweetly spoiled baby for a change.”
They laughed. “I’d pay to see that.”
And then we went back to talking about vocabulary builders.