How to Suck it Up and Be Brave

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I was born and raised in LA, and honestly, I’ll probably die here too. What I’ve come to realize while growing up in this glorified traffic jam of a city is that nearly everyone here has moved from somewhere else to fulfill a dream. LA is the place you go to become catapulted to the very top of whichever industry you want to be in. Whether it’s fashion, cooking, acting, music, writing, filming; it’s here and it’s competitive.

I myself am attempting to jump start a fashion photography career in this homecity of mine. This is a particularly aggressive industry to break into, because there are so many people who want to do what I want to do, and they’re better at it than me.

My 11th grade history teacher once bluntly told me and my peers the most honest piece of truth I’ve ever heard, and I think about it pretty much every day:

“It doesn’t matter what you want to do with your life, the honest truth is that there will always be somebody who does the thing you do best better than you. There’s no such thing as one person being the absolute best at something.”

 

This shattered me. Because that is so incredibly hard. The idea of having to live your life in this constant pool of insecurity. And it’s not a fun pool either. It’s a community pool filled with battery acid and snakes.

And so I think about what it means to be brave. I think about the different examples of bravery I’ve witnessed in my life.

My mother was brave when she decided to leave everything behind her in Florida and move to LA in her 20s. My father was brave when he decided to trade in his father’s love for his passion for flying helicopters. I’m being brave right now by writing this article for the whole internet to see and critique.

A big part of being brave is doing something and not caring about what people think about it. And that’s so hard. I think anybody who genuinely doesn’t care about the opinion of others is robot, a liar, or a sociopath. I have come to learn that everybody is insecure in one aspect or another.

Even Beyoncé cares about what people thinks. That’s why her every move is so calculated and perfect.

Bravery comes from fear. It sprouts from a tiny fear seed planted in the pit of your stomach, where your insecurity pools. Bravery grows when you are able to water your fear seed with things like relationships, passions, wants, desires, and the like. Bravery blossoms out of the feeling of being content with your fear of the unknown. And most importantly, bravery never goes away, because your fears can never really be snuffed out. But they can be combatted.

You may not know it, but you perform small braveries every day. When you start that conversation on Tinder, when you leave your house to travel to a new place. You’re brave when you speak your mind, you’re brave when you step outside of your comfort zone. Bravery lives in everyone. It’s whether or not you act on it that counts.

So seize that moment. Start fires where you shouldn’t start fires. Eat the last slice of pizza. Pursue your wildest dreams. Spend a year in India. Nobody can or should tell you what to do. You control your own destiny.

It’s taken me forever to actually let the brave inside me flourish. I’ll admit, it’s hard and takes a lot of practice. But as you get older, as your confidence grows and as you become wiser, it gets easier to be brave.

So next time you think about the things holding you back from reaching your full potential, reread this piece and remember that bravery thrives in you.

You got this, dude.

Words & Photos: Maddy Welk