On the day she dared to publicly confess that she felt brave for the first time in her life, a disillusioned reader wrote back to say she didn’t know the meaning of bravery. She was too young, her life was too pretty, she still had to live a little before she could staple herself with the title, “Brave.”

It’s amazing to me that there is a critic who would honestly think a girl is too young to be brave, when I’m sitting here on the other end of the spectrum thinking she is far too old to experience bravery for the first time.

Darling, if twenty-five is when you finally feel ready to face the danger, I can’t imagine how fearful your childhood must have been.

Because Brave is not for after you’ve survived it all; Brave is for a lifetime. You don’t need Brave once you’ve overcome; you need it for right there in the thick of the storm when the waves are crashing onto the deck and the ship is starting to crack in two.

Brave is for the band of children trekking deep into a forest that may be filled with coyotes and Indians on the warpath.

Brave is for the ten-year-old child who watches her grandmother succumb to cancer.

Brave is for the fourteen-year-old girl afloat deep in the ocean, urging her little brother to just keep swimming toward shore.

Brave is for the nineteen-year-old aspiring author, clutching a manuscript to her chest as she prepares to offer it up for rejection.

Brave is for the twenty-one-year-old young woman realizing everything she has ever dreamed of is not everything she imagined it would be.

Brave is for the new teacher, cradling a child whose whole world has fallen apart around him, trying not to fall apart with him.

Brave is for the girl with the broken heart, picking up the pieces and deciding she will love again.

Baby, you had better believe I wouldn’t be standing here today if I hadn’t learned to strap Brave to my shoulders like a parachute. I would have crashed. And burned. And died.

And I’m not even twenty-five yet.

But how else does a girl survive the way the world likes to throw her about even as it goes on spinning if she does not resolve to be Brave?

So if you think Brave is a cloak that doesn’t fit your shoulders just right, maybe you need to stand a little taller, darling. Just straighten on up and tug it snugly into place. I think you’ll find, with a little practice, that it fits you prettier than you might think.

Do me a favor and set the lies aside. Stop believing you’re too young, and that your life is too pretty, and that you have to live a little before you can staple Brave to your name.

You deserve a lifetime of bravery. I hope you find it. I hope you find it.


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