If you've ever experienced a period of serious, debilitating, and perhaps even life threatening, illness, or, like myself you suffer from a chronic and incurable illness, there's a 99% chance you'll have been referred to as 'brave'.
Now before I begin let me clarify that there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. It's a lovely word and it's connotations are flattering in the extreme.
But why 'brave'?
Myself, I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease; I got sick, and got surgery, and got a little better, then got sick again (repeat to infinity).
I had no choice in any of it. I just had to grimace and bear it.
Maybe that's why the idea of 'bravery' is such a bug bear for me; because it's all out with my control. I don't WANT to have to be 'brave', or 'inspiring' or any other similes raided from the Thesaurus of Hallmark.
I WANT to be 'NORMAL'.
I don't consider myself brave because I didn't chose this life. The Crohn's life chose me.
I didn't decide to jump in front of a car to save a pensioner from getting thrown to their death.
I didn't punch a shark in the face to stop it eating a child's leg.
Pull a morbidly obese man from a burning building wearing a gasoline soaked maxi dress.
I didn't leave the last Jaffa Cake in the packet for SOMEONE ELSE to eat.
All of these things I consider to be acts of bravery. Performed out of choice. Selfless acts to benefit someone else. Putting yourself at risk without consideration.
I 'put myself at risk' when I take medication that gives me horrible side effects, or when I go under the surgeons knife, or use a public toilet in a train station. But I didn't choose to be 'brave'. I chose to accept my lot and get on with it. Because really, what is my alternative? Play the martyr? Die?
Where's the bravery in that?
I suppose I dislike the idea of being thought of as 'brave' mainly because I often don't feel it. What's brave about squirming every time you think about getting examined, or squeezing the bottom of the chair when you get another blood test? I regularly feel weak and powerless and that I have no choice but to bow down to my illness. That makes me frustrated and angry and certainly not someone who'd 'inspire'.
I feel at my bravest when I tell you that I don't feel brave. I often feel anything but. Bravery comes from making the absolute best of yourself in spite of an illness. Attitude is everything. You are limited in your choices so choose wisely; choose to be happy. Now that's inspirational.