I submitted a blog post about a year ago to a website that I love reading. I was a friend of the editor and she’d asked me to write something.
“Absolutely.” I told her. “I’d be honored to contribute.”
I wrote what I thought was a really great article. I spent much longer on it that I usually spend on something like this and I poured over my own personal edits for an entire evening. I sent it off to her and waited to hear back.
“Sarah. This isn’t your normal writing. I don’t know what it is, but I just don’t see you in this. Something seems to have changed in you over the past year. What’s going on?”
What’s going on? Everything-I-can’t-tell-anyone-about is going on.
The email went on and on about how she wanted me to write with bravery and with each word it felt like she was driving a knife further into my chest. It’s one thing to say that the post wasn’t good, it’s one thing to ask me to rewrite, but it’s another thing to “notice” altogether that there was something generally wrong with my writing.
If there is something “wrong” with my writing, then a.) I don’t know what it is, b.) I can’t fix it, and c.) trust me, it pains me more than it pains you.
What I didn’t know then is that all the tumult in my marriage and in my home was actually affecting my writing. It was affecting my creativity. It was affecting the heart from which words flowed and I could do nothing about it, nor could I even recognize it.
I want to be a brave writer, not a simple one. I want to dig into the cake, all three layers, rather than just smooth icing across the top. I want my tombstone to say Brave and not Safe.
Because who remembers safe?
I don’t want to be the writer who submits so-so work. I want to be fully-me and full-brave and fully-what-I-know-I’m-supposed-to-be.
I want to be the brave girl in the room, not the pretty girl or the put-together one or the smart girl even. I want to be the brave girl.
Bravery is hard to come by unfortunately, when I put limits on my own self.
Others can limit us for sure. But for the most part, I tell myself what I can do or what I cannot do. My therapist always asks me, “What voice are you listening to?” In essence, who is telling me I’m ugly or small or stupid or scared? Who is telling me that I don’t matter or I’m not worthy?I do this every day: I listen to the voices that want to keep me “safe.”
Even if we don’t write. Even if what we do well is be mothers or be friends or be people who create good in the world, even so we run the risk of limiting ourselves with fear, with what we think we can and cannot do and with the voices that shout loudly in our heads. Even if its not a Brave Writer that we want to be, and we want to be a Brave Friend or a Brave Daughter or a Brave Mother, we still are frozen with fear sometimes.
But bravery is so much more beautiful than fear. Bravery is so. much. more. beautiful. than. fear.
My friend the editor was correct in her assessment. I wasn’t ready to hear it at the time, but she was right. She saw what I was capable of and she knew that so much more was possible from me. She understood that who I was meant to be was the brave girl in the room and she knew how to call it out me.
And now over year later I’m finally starting to climb out. I’m finally starting to be brave. (Bravery might come in inches, but it does come.)
Are you a “brave girl?” Who do you know that’s brave? How have you seen bravery as beautiful?