Far too often people base bravery on lifestyles and actions that they couldn't or wouldn't imagine for themselves. While it's easy to see why people use this measurement, it is limited. What we cannot imagine or would not wish for ourselves is not the full extent of what it takes to be brave. Being brave is more than participating in an extreme lifestyle or living with an unforeseen circumstance; being brave is making a conscious and continuous decision to be and do better than who we are, right now. Being brave is getting up every single day and doing the hard work to become more honest versions of ourselves.
Bravery cannot be measured and should not be judged. It is an individual experience dependent on your personal history and your emotional growth. The bravest action you have ever taken may not be realized or even known by others. Someone may think it is brave to bungie jump, get a tattoo, or go skydiving, but not consider all that it took for you to open up to love again. Admiration may be given to someone for standing up to a bully, but no one is there to cheer you on when you make an appointment with a mental health professional or schedule your first chemotherapy treatment. Others may be praised for traveling abroad solo, yet few know what you endured to stay positive during a prolonged hospital stay, testify against your rapist in court, or get out of bed the day after burying your loved one. What others fail to see or consider does not make you any less brave.
What makes you brave is not always recognizable, not even to yourself. You exercise bravery when you push past what's easy and choose what's best. Even if no one ever presents you with a trophy or gives you a platform upon which to tell your story, sometimes the bravest action you can take is to wake up and try again. After heartache, disappointment, shame, failure, mistakes, and fear, if you are genuinely still trying, then you can walk with your head high and know that you are brave.