When was the last time you were brave? – Jennifer Oaten

When was the last time you were brave? – Jennifer Oaten

When was the last time you were brave? Perhaps it was: 

  • A difficult conversation you had with a friend or family member
  • A time you said no because you were overcommitted
  • A presentation you were required to give
  • A truly honest answer you gave
  • A time you spoke up about an injustice
  • A time you left a party where you felt uncomfortable
  • A race you finished when you weren’t sure you could.

I was brave last week. I wrote an opinion piece on the impact of social media on mental health, and it was published in the West Australian newspaper. I was then asked to do a live interview on ABC radio. Both were optional. I am passionate about raising awareness of the impact of social media but sharing my opinion publicly opens the door for people to criticise. I felt it was important, and I did the interview… it went fine.

What is bravey and what does it mean to be brave?

Bravery doesn’t wait for momentous occasions like climbing a mountain.

Bravery isn’t reserved for men or women in the fire brigade, police force or army. Yes, they are definitely brave, and I honour them all.

Because of this perception, ‘brave’ probably isn’t high on the list of words you use to describe yourself. We prefer to say, “Other people are brave. I’m not.”

Bravery is an act that is big or small. You practice it in small everyday moments. It forces you to take a deep breath, ignore the voice in your head that says you can’t, and do it anyway.

What stops us from being brave?

What holds you back from achieving your dreams is not how smart you are or how hard you work; it is about fear.

Brene Brown, well known for her TED talks, speaks about a human characteristic called vulnerability. When we are brave, we are exposed to failing or not being perfect. We are vulnerable. Our fear of disappointing ourselves or disappointing others often stops us from being brave. But this also means we may miss out on amazing opportunities.

We need to remember

Hardly any great piece of work looks perfect when it first emerges as an idea. Ideas are born as rough, unpolished thoughts which need to be refined. The first draft should be known as the downdraft — you just get it all down. The second draft is the updraft — you fix it up

The first draft is where all the big ideas and innovation come from. It is about trusting yourself, letting go and being brave with your thoughts. The only way to combat fear is not to wait until you’re fearless – but to take a deep breath, clench your fists and have a go. Ask yourself, what is the worst thing that could happen? It is about taking on challenges, feeling the butterflies and racing heart and then, the joy when you overcome these.

Bravery is what will encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and do more than you ever thought possible. Bravery is what will set you apart.

Many men I know play golf. They love it, and even if they are not very good at it may play every week. Females often think differently. If we aren’t the best on the course, we don’t even want to turn up. We tend to confuse the things we like to do with things we are good at doing.

But we’re missing out on opportunities to experience joy. These holidays, I challenge you to try something that looks fun, something you’re probably not going to be good at but always wanted to try. Perhaps it is a dance class, rock climbing, painting, scuba diving or writing an opinion piece for the West!  Whatever you choose, don’t judge yourself for not being great… judge yourself for being brave and enjoying the experience. The only real way to gain confidence in being brave is to practice. 

The world needs brave women

Brave women have created, designed, built, innovated, and shaped the world as we know it. They are responsible for some of our greatest achievements, are some of our greatest leaders and continue to shape the world.

The world needs brave women who:

  • Face challenges with strength, knowledge, and compassion
  • Are not afraid to question
  • Do not compromise their values when making decisions
  • Are willing to give things a go, to learn, make mistakes and have another go.

The teenage years are when girls need to be loved and accepted for being courageous. Let us all work together to promote bravery, not perfectionism.

There’s no such thing as failure – only detours, only opportunities to try again, only stepping stones and lessons learned. Being brave enables us to try, but also to have another go.

Believe in yourself and be brave.

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