“You’re pretty brave, kid. It takes a lot of grit to come over here all by yourself.”

Those words were spoken to me on February 5, 2013—one of my first scary, exhilarating, overwhelming days as an intern in Frankfurt, Germany. Two and a half years later—this past Monday—they rang in my ears again, this time as I walked toward a stranger’s house in Orem, Utah.

I didn’t want to be there. It took all my strength not to fake a phone call and freakin’ sprint in the opposite direction. I was terrified of what was on the other side.

Uncomfortable interactions. The possibility of rejection. Loneliness. Silence. Unfair judgments. Comparisons. Feelings of hopelessness. The risk of a panic attack.

I had decided I wasn’t going to show up that night. Too many scary possibilities that I didn’t want to become realities. Too much potential for pain. Too much doubt.

But something had happened an hour before that I refuse to believe was coincidence.

It was 6:43 p.m. and I was running late. I hastily checked the mail as I dragged groceries, sweaty gym clothes, and work projects from my truck to my house. I’ll never know what moved me to check the mail right then. My hands were full. I was tired. I was hungry. And I virtually never check the mail.

Sitting on top of the mail pile was a package from Admonish Clothing (which I’ll be talking about in greater detail next week!). And in that package was a shirt that couldn’t have arrived at a more opportune moment.

Be Brave by Admonish Clothing

I remember scrolling through Admonish’s website a few weeks ago trying to choose a shirt. “Be brave,” I said out loud, smiling as I thought about wearing that shirt around. “What an inspiring message. Maybe wearing that shirt would help inspire me to do hard things.”

The timing couldn’t have been more ironic. Impeccable. Fortuitous. Perfect. Whatever you want to call it.

I needed to do a hard thing on Monday night. And that shirt in the mail was the kick in the butt I needed to do that thing.

But that’s not the end of the story.

A lot of people have been calling me brave lately. Brave for being so open about my fight against mental illness. Brave for owning up to the fact that I have a legitimate problem with self injury. Brave for randomly starting a fashion blog. Brave for putting myself out there.

And I’ve been called brave a lot throughout my life. Brave for moving to a foreign country where I didn’t speak the language. Brave for picking up and moving to new city after new city with my family. Brave for speaking my mind. Brave for standing up for what’s right.

But I have never, ever felt brave. 

Despite all the things I’ve been able to see, do, and accomplish during my life, I have always felt very weak. So as I gazed at that shirt on Monday night, I got to thinking about what it means to “be brave.” And then I got to thinking about what bravery might mean to other people. And then I got to thinking about how cool it would be to write a post with my friends’ thoughts on bravery.

So that’s exactly what I did. I asked 14 of the bravest people I know about what bravery means to them. I look up to these people. They’re the ones that inspire me. The ones that constantly remind me that life is wonderful and full of incredible things. The ones whose examples we should all follow.

In the slideshow below you’ll find their thoughts on bravery, as well as a little info about them and why I chose to include them in today’s post.

Enjoy! 

And last, but certainly not least, is a girl who I’ve looked up to since I was 12.

Moquie.

Moquie on her wedding day in 2012.
Moquie on her wedding day in 2012.

She wrote such a touching response to my question about bravery that I couldn’t bare to cut it down to fit into the slideshow.

“I remember Taylor when she was a little girl! Seeing her now, successful and pursuing her passions makes me so happy. Taylor asked me if I would share my thoughts on bravery. She remembers a 16 year old me, bald and battling a rare pediatric bone cancer. A lot of people remember that girl. And when it’s brought up in conversation the word “brave” is almost always sure to come up.

When I think back to that time in my life I don’t think of myself though. I think of my parents. They were SO brave. To put their daughter’s life in the hands of complete strangers, watching them make her more and more sick…that had to be rough. And more than that, they put my fate in the hands of our Heavenly Father. It takes a lot of bravery to tell Heavenly Father that whatever His will would be, we would understand. Brave.

Another person that comes to mind is my best friend, Mandi. She was 16 also. And she was by my side through the worst of the worst. Her bravery made me stronger. She made me push forward when all I wanted to do was go to sleep and never wake up again. She sat with me in absolute silence, she rubbed my back as I threw up in a bucket. She cried over the fact that she had to be carried out of the room during my epideral, because she almost fainted. Now, her bravery has transitioned to being an Army wife. She has lived through one deployment of her husband, with the likelihood of more to come. Brave.

With cancer almost 10 years in my rearview, I think back to that time in my life and am so thankful for the bravery of those around me who carried me when I couldn’t. Bravery comes in so many forms. Recently, my husband took a leap of faith, followed his dream, and set out to open his own business. That took a lot of bravery, to venture into the unknown. Brave.

I teach first grade. When discussing with my students how I can be the best teacher for them this year, one boy noted that I need to be brave, “…in case a snake comes into our classroom! You have to be brave and protect us!!” They also agreed that they have to be brave when faced with a challenge, like a difficult math problem, they can’t give up. They have to be brave and keep trying. Brave.

I could go on for days about who is brave and how, but I think I’ll close with one last person. Taylor. Such bravery it must take to be so transparent with her readers about the challenges in her life. I’m so proud of her for spilling her heart, in the hopes of helping others. SHE is BRAVE.”

I had originally planned to end with my own thoughts on bravery. 

But after reading and compiling all the responses from my friends and family members, I was so overcome with emotion and gratitude that I decided to leave you all with a simple realization I had during this little project. The realization I had is this: bravery is diverse. It comes in many different forms. It can be applied to a variety of situations. It means something different to each and every person I talked to.

And why is that? I think it’s because deep down, each and every human being has the potential, the capability, and the power to be brave.

Be Brave by Admonish Clothing

Bravery isn’t something that’s just in soldiers, athletes, or astronauts. It’s in all of us.

It’s in the depressed boy who gets out of bed every single day even though it hurts like hell.

It’s in the girl with an eating disorder who’s trying so, so hard to take better care of herself.

It’s in the concerned mom who does all she can to learn about her daughter’s anxiety disorder.

It’s in the parents who have to watch their children struggle.

It’s in the man who sets goals and makes plans to achieve his dreams.

It’s in the woman who endures heartbreak after heartbreak and still opens herself up to love.

It’s in all the people who get knocked down but refuse to stay down.

It’s in the people who have been broken but are trying to put themselves back together.

It’s in everyone who knows there are better days ahead.

It’s in the dreamers. The doers. The go-getters.

It’s in me.

It’s in you.

It’s in all of us. We just have to look for it. 

Bravery sure as hell ain’t all sunshine and roses. Being brave often takes us down treacherous roads with lots of trials. But those roads will always be worth it. Because as my girl Brene Brown said:

Brene Brown quote

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