Bravery is often first sold to us through kids’ movies. Our initial exposure to adversity comes through cartoon characters and beloved talking animal sidekicks. We watch the men fight for the women, or whatever glory it is they seek, and thanks to a lot of people that blazed the trail before us, we now get to watch the women fight just as hard for things more substantial than the traditional limiting feminine role (i.e. those in search for Prince Charming). The bad guy comes pretty clear-cut, and he/she is wholly bad, making them clear to identify from the beginning.
We grow up, and we stop buying it. We realize that we don’t need to fight for every aspect of our lives to fall into place. We understand that no one is entirely good or bad, and we must then decide if we want to code them as a villain or an ally or write them entirely out of the story. We start to see how evil doesn’t look like a caricatured purple octopus with glowing green powers and a life-bounding contract with an extremely unfair ultimatum. No. The villains we face as we grow up are the ones who tell us that we do not have what it takes to overcome our obstacles. We begin to see the fact that watching brave men fight and act aggressive means that there leaves little room for sensitivity, fragility, expression of emotion that surpasses rescuing someone from the top of a tower in the name of love. The animal sidekicks correspond with our teachers, our friends, our family, and anyone else that shows us the light and helps us on our journey (just usually not in song-form). Before we know it, we are growing up, and the possibilities are endless.
We decide that maybe bravery isn’t getting dressed up to go to a ball. Maybe bravery is deciding to stay home and sit with ourselves for a while. We start to realize that the magic we have watched onscreen is actually the result of making good, conscious choices that we face every day. Maybe we don’t need to climb towers or go on adventures. Maybe the bravery lies in deciding that we are good enough on the ground we stand on. Maybe bravery isn’t trying to go on despite our troubles, but rather, letting things unravel until we finally open up to someone else. Bravery is admitting defeat sometimes. Bravery is bearing your ugly side. Bravery is also letting yourself be good enough, letting yourself feel something for someone other than yourself. And bravery is knowing that this isn’t all there is. On the other side of our hurdles lies exactly what we’ve been waiting for. On the other side of our fears of failure, abandonment, complacency, and imprisonment lies success, intimacy, growth, and freedom. We lead our own way. We make our own team and serve as our own coach.
So, at the end of the day, it doesn’t come down to sword fights, great heights, or glowing lights. It’s us, and it’s how we work together.
We don’t need any more heroes. What we need most is friendship.