Some of the most incredibly useful essays about being brave you’ll ever* read…
*May or may not be hyperbole for effect!
I write a lot about being brave, and what it’s like to say and (sometimes) do brave things. Mostly it’s about speaking up when it’s easier and safer and more comfortable to stay quiet. I’m definitely not a hero—I don’t cure cancer or save kittens from burning buildings—but the life I’ve saved is my own, so that has to count for something.
Being brave is not easy mind you, because I’m not a particularly brave person. And I’m not a huge risk taker. I certainly wasn’t brave as a child. Living with a violent parent will ensure survival mode kicks in and in my case, silence was my saviour. Fear is a powerful motivator for conformity.
Fear is also powerful motivator for not doing things, like travelling on your own, or writing about hard topics.
As an adult, though, I am able to choose. And choosing to live bravely means I get to choose a life that’s fabulous, fearless and ultimately free, unlike the life I endured as a child. It means being unafraid to reject unsuitable partners because I’m too scared to be on my own, or to speak up at work when it’s (probably) safer to keep quiet because my job’s at risk, or to travel solo to fascinating destinations when it’s easier to stay home, glued to the Travel Channel.
Being brave means being uncomfortable
Living bravely means being uncomfortable, among other things. At least, it does in the beginning when you take those first tentative steps on your journey toward fearless and fabulous—an ultimately free—living.
Brene Brown is an expert on this subject, and you can see what she has to say in the video below:
My first overseas trip ever was in my late 40s, when I went to Vietnam on my own. You’re so brave, people (mostly women) would say. Not really, I said. If I waited for people to travel with, the next thing you know, I’d still be sitting on my couch and I’d be 80 and would never have been anywhere and how sad would that be…
The same with my writing, and it’s often other writers who tell me how brave I am with what I write. I take that as a compliment that I’m doing my job as a writer: making people feel. Something. Anything.
Write what scares you, said Cheryl Strayed. She also advises writers to “write like a motherfucker”.
I try to do both.
Being brave in love and relationships
Below you’ll find links to (what I think are) my best essays about being brave. I write raw and authentic and honest and hopefully, what I write makes you feel something. Apart from How The Italian Broke My Heart, these are more or less in date order, from oldest to newest.
- How the Italian Broke My Heart – I tell the story of how the Italian broke my heart. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t end well.
- Making sense of nonsense – in which I realise I have been e-maintained. PS – what sort of human being does that?
- It’s not me, it’s you – about choosing potential partners wisely… a lesson I never seem to learn!
- I need me a game plan – by having sexy times with this particular man, I signed up for all kinds of head-fucks.
- The pact I’m making with myself – and why I need a pact with myself, because… boundaries!
- No small thing – another day, another dating disaster (and this post isn’t about the size of this dude’s penis!)
- To my dear future husband, I’m sorry… – and what if never find him?
- An open letter to boys/dudes/men who want to have sexy times with me – even at 52, I’m a sex bomb. Apparently.
- What no one tells you about online dating – urgh. Online dating. But how else are you supposed to meet men?
- The ex-files – all the men I’ve loved before, analysed through the prism of my anxious attachment style.
- 10 Things I’ve learned about being single for 10 years – who admits they’ve been single for 10 years? Me, apparently!
- 5 Things I’ve learned about sex from being single for 10 years – this essay is one of the bravest things I think I’ve ever written… I was really worried about hitting publish on this post!
- On Mother’s Day: an open letter to my daughter – being an unloved daughter has coloured my expectations of being a mother…
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