Wednesday, January 25, 2012

3 Ways to Be Brave

Photo by Kelsae Stentzel

I have seen some brave acts in my friends and family recently. Some are more life-changing than others, but I have been impressed with all of them. Like, did you know that my sister basically gave birth naturally? Or that my husband admitted that he is a reading addict?

These inspiring examples have made me wonder how I could get into this trend of being brave. Here are a few ideas that I had that I would like to share with you.

1. Wave Your Freak Flag
This one is seemingly easy for me, right? This blog is full freaky things about me: my body issues, my Mean Girl past and present, how I am not cool or fun.

I can do this because of a lesson I learned from the TV show Full House. When the middle daughter Stephanie was given prescription glasses to wear, she was nervous about how her classmates would react. Ever the stand-up comedian, Uncle Joey presented Stephanie with the idea that if she makes fun of her glasses first, then everyone will be laughing with her instead of at her. Cue the extra-large sunglasses bit and the 90s jokes of the TGIF era.

The idea that one can be open with one's shortcomings or oddities has lead me to believe that if I frame them in a way that is funny/poignant/memorable, then others will be more tolerant of them.

Do you want to "be yourself" more? Take a step in the right direction and tell everyone about your weirdest passion. The people who you want in your life will help you hold your freaky flagpole and the people you don't want really don't matter anyway. This might be easier if you too wear extra-large neon sunglasses.

2. Fail Big
The scariest aspect of doing something new or following a dream is the prospect of failure. Sure, bungee jumping is death-defying and walking on hot coals is potentially maiming, but ultimately those would be failing...right?

If you are looking to up your bravery quotient, choose something to do that you know you will fail at. This adventure need not have anything to do with your shortcomings or ultimate goals. The whole idea about failing big is that you need to show yourself that failing is okay—you can fail, you can pick yourself back up, and you can keep going.

Prep your most horrible singing voice and sing at a karaoke night. Start a no-sugar diet on Halloween. Invite a bunch of friends over for dinner, make a souffle for the first time, and watch through the oven door as it falls. Try rock climbing, then notice your upper body strength can't even get you up the first five feet.

After your spectacular blaze of failure, you will be able to put future failures into perspective. You can start to turn your desires into actions—if those actions don't turn out how you expected, then you can say to yourself, "Remember that time I told myself I would read for 24 hours straight, and I only made it four hours before I had to take a Wheel of Fortune break? But I still ended up reading for 20 of those 24 hours!"

3. Start at the Bottom
I was struck recently at how many different kinds of jobs people can hold. On the thirty minute drive to my husband's office, we pass buildings where there are people who make $20,000 a year and people who make seven figures. The disparity between the incomes, as well as the disparity between the types of work blew my mind.

I was then reminded that my first job in the publishing industry was being a janitor for BYU Magazine. Every night, I would vacuum the offices of people who had their Chicago Manual of Style on their desks and I would dump the wastebaskets full of article ideas and meeting notes. Simply being in that environment helped me know that writing and sharing that writing was something I wanted to do with my life. From there, I have had the opportunity to see my name in magazines through working on editorial staffs and honing my writing and editing skills.

Do you want to follow your Big Dream? Start at the ground level. Pay your dues and learn your craft. Gain experience, network with your peers, and keep your eyes open for opportunities. It's a brave thing to be able to tell yourself that you can't achieve your ultimate goal in one fell swoop.

Be bold and think big—be brave and start small.


  1. Awesome article, Holly! Can I call it an article? Cause I want to. I found it inspiring and insightful. I especially loved the tip about failing big. Gold.

    Some of your best writing in a while, I think. You should be really proud of this post.

  2. wow, this was such a great post! i bookmarked it, so i can read it again. :-D

  3. I LOVE this post. I think we could all do with some more bravery in our lifes. I've been pretty brave in the past when I faced some serious health issues buitut I know I could be braver in other things I do. Well done!

    P.S. I've featured this in my weekly post!