One of my all time favorite Disney Princess movies is Brave. What I love about the movie most is the main character. Merida’s fierce independence and relentless courage to be authentically herself is inspiring.
The movie closes with her making this statement:
“There are those who say that fate is something beyond our command. That our destinies are not our own. But I know better. Our fate lives within us. You only have to be brave enough to see it.”
Contrary to what many believe, our lives are not prewritten. We have the ability to shape our futures if we have the courage to act.
In other words...
if we want to live meaningful and beautiful lives, then we must be brave.
That’s why I love this movie and why I strive to be brave, even in small ways. I want to be able to speak out when I see things that are wrong and I want to be brave enough to try new things that may seem scary. I want to be brave enough to pursue my dreams even though my insecurities tell me I’m not good enough, I’m too old, and it’s too late. I want to model bravery so that my children will also live courageous lives.
But... how can I cultivate a brave life and teach my children to be brave when, for so much of my life as a Hmong woman, I’ve been told to simply be submissive and obedient?
The other day,
I saw the book, Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, lying on my coffee table. I had purchased it a couple months ago but lost track of it. I read the intro again and was reminded of this powerful quote by Theodore Roosevelt:
It is not the critic who counts;
not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles,
or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena,
whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;
who strives valiantly;
who comes short again and again,
because there is no effort without error and shortcoming;
but who does actually strive to do the deeds;
who knows great enthusiasms,
the great devotions;
who spends himself in a worthy cause;
who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement,
and who at the worst,
if he fails,
at least fails while daring greatly,
so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls
who neither know victory nor defeat.
[Emphasis my own]
So that is what it means to live a brave life: making mistakes, being vulnerable, open for others to criticize, yet never giving up.
You ask anyone who has done anything significant with their lives and they will tell you it was only possible because they made more mistakes than anyone else.
As a Hmong woman,
this means I need to stop trying to please everyone!
It means that I can and I must trust my intuition and not allow for others to walk all over me.
It means I must stand up for myself and for others.
It means I must take action even when I’m afraid.
It means I must learn to embrace failure because failure is the only way to learn.
Bravery means I let go of the negative elements of Hmong culture (like the subjugation of women) and embrace the beautiful elements of Hmong culture (like honoring our elders and eating together).
I’ve spent too much of my life living in fear. It would pain me so deeply to see my children live a life of fear as well. I don’t want them to look back on life and say, “I wish I would have just tried.”
Or worse, I would hate to see my children become critical and bitter adults, always saying they could have done better than this or that person...but never actually doing anything, envying the lives of others, dying each time they see someone else succeed.
Instead, I want my children to fail much, knowing that each failure will lead them to greater success. I want them to face challenges with courage and to see them as opportunities to grow stronger, wiser, and braver.
I want them to not care so much about what others think, rather, I want them to focus on only being better than who they were yesterday.
I want them to know that they get to create their lives.
But this is the scary thing: kids do what they see us doing, not what we tell them. That means, I need to be who I hope my children will become.
One brave thing that I commit to doing is to write one blog post per week for you, my readers.
It’s honestly really hard for me to write on a regular basis because I’m scared. I’m scared of putting my heart out there. But, if I really want to be brave, then I must do brave things.
So here’s to making more mistakes and grinding gears. Lol.
But seriously...here’s to living a brave and beautiful life.
What’s 1 thing you can do this week
to live a brave life?
Let me know by leaving a comment :)