When Your Bravery Looks Different

Today, I was going from 7:30 AM to 9:30 PM. I came back to my dorm relieved that my roommate wasn’t in and I would get some time to myself. I was able to shower, eat, and curl up into bed to call home. In the process, somewhere between my grilled cheese (what is it about college that makes me eat so many grilled cheese? Oh, the fact there is a place that sells them at the bottom of my residence hall.) I came across an article from the Mighty that I love. If you haven’t seen their site, it’s dedicated to those struggling with physical and mental illnesses. I have found comfort in the words of other writers who live functioning lives with depression and anxiety. Their articles have reaffirmed me that yes my struggle is real and yes I can do it. Due to the fact that real people are writing about how their illness truly manifests, there is a more true picture of the illness as a whole. I can attest it to be true for those I live with, and have reason to believe it true for the others as well. I often find myself reading things about bipolar disorder, ADHD, and the list goes on in an attempt to better understand the beautiful people around me. Nonetheless, the article that inspired this is here.

I was brave today. No, I did not move mountains. No, I did not yell from the rooftops about a cause I passionately believe in. No, I did not skydive. No, I did not rush to save someone from being hit by a car.  No, I did not save a box of kittens from a rushing river. The bravery I showed was much quieter. It was much more personal. It’s the kind of bravery that for some reason people have forgotten exists.

I moved myself, not mountains, but my physical person from bed this morning. Even though my alarm set off and I thought of six hundred reasons not to get out of bed. The idea of the walk to my chemistry lab took my breath away and my body was tired before the day had begun- as it often is- I got up, dressed, and went anyways. I did whisper to myself over and over again that I was okay, I was not a failure, and I have a purpose while another voice in my head yelled quite loudly the opposite. There were no airplanes to jump out of, but my heart might not believe that. It raced just as fast and my palms got just as clammy as I walked across the union and agreed to sit and have lunch with a girl from class. Everyone was watching me and judging me. Especially her, she was sorry she had asked me to have lunch with her, she thought I ate like a slob- why must I be such a messy eater-, and she wrinkled her nose when I dropped multiple things because my hands were shaking and I was trying to conceal it. These things weren’t true, but my body told me different. I didn’t save a life, but I convinced mine to keep going. I reasoned with myself that I would do my homework and be lively at work because soon I would feel better. My heart kept beating and my life kept functioning; today that was a big job and I did it. There were no kittens to be saved, but I went to my meeting this evening even though the exhaustion was beginning to feel more like 100 pounds instead of it’s usual 20. My skin was crawling and my stomach knotted itself until I physically felt sick, but instead of texting , “Sorry guys, I won’t be there tonight.” I went. I went and I went to the extra piece after that. I kept going after I got back to my dorm. I reminded myself to eat. I showered. I brushed my teeth. I set my alarm. All these things felt like chores. I did them anyways.

I kept going.

I kept going and not everyone knows just how much bravery that took. So,  I want you to know that if you were brave today I see you, I know you’re struggling, and I am proud of you. If you weren’t brave today? I see you, I am proud of you, and we will try again tomorrow.

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