The Bravest Thing
What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
I asked this question last week and was flooded with hundreds of great responses.
Here are many of them, with links to the people who were brave enough to share. (All of these comments were shared publicly, and there are also 80+ responses on our Facebook page.)
ferolea: Quitting my job go around the world was easy. Coming back… that’s the bravest I’ve been.
coffeeshopchat: I saved a drowning boy when I wasn’t much older than he. Was I brave? No, but others thought otherwise. I just did.
abbysname: Moved to Saudi Arabia as a woman.
avalonmel: Agreed to teach uni computer science course to 130+ students when I was 22… and afraid of public speaking.
ourborder: Brave is a funny word. I was more afraid of becoming a father than driving into Haiti post-earthquake.
LMBGoodwin: Cold-called the father I had never met (I was 17).
jenlouden: Fell in love after a divorce and blended our familes
adam_mayfield: Buying my ticket to Thailand and leaving for overseas for the first time
HiroBoga: Moved halfway across the world. Birthed my sons. Three months in silent retreat.
lindaeatsworld: Quit a career job in 2009 without anything lined up
thinkc: Admitted I couldn’t ‘power through’ my bad situation and got help
moonslark: The bravest thing I have ever done is leave an abusive (but financially secure) marriage to become a healthy mother
ctovarez: The bravest thing I have ever done is get married and have children.
Karl_Staib: 3 way tie. Moved away from my family, fought off cancer, and learning to just relax in the moment.
PhotosRmyStry: The bravest thing I’ve ever (so far) done was jump out of a plane… it helped me face my fears of heights and flying.
heidirettig: Write to someone I hadn’t spoken with for 20 years and offer them an apology for the hurt I caused. Turned out well.
intuitivebridge: Faced my kid’s neurodevelopmental disabilities.
AlexisNeely: Decided to take the plunge and rebuild a team again.
kyeli: The bravest thing I’ve ever done was to become a mother. Runner up: becoming myself.
robferriol: Quit a six-figure job at the height of a recession and 10% unemployment
hovlandphoto: The first time was joining Peace Corps.
SaiChoo: Tell a female friend that I liked her.
Brandon101: My decision to pursue Spirit of the Gulf Coast despite not having financial resources or a plan to pull it off
LilyIatridis: First thing that comes to mind is standing up to my father.
jalaine: Deciding to become a stay-at-home dad. Today was my last day at work.
cherrypop94: I’m not sure if it’s brave, but I tried to climb down a cliff to the sea wearing sandals and a dress. Got in trouble, too.
TaraEAnderson: Became a parent.
GennaMcWhinnie: Wrote an open letter to the management [cc’d to all staff] to tell them they treated their staff like shit. Then I quit.
TylerLClark: I moved halfway across the country for an unpaid internship. At the end, they offered me a job. Glad I took the risk!
erdoland: Quit my teaching job to write full time. It sounds silly now, on this side of it, but I was terrified.
lbhuston: Learned to take a stand when something meaningful is at stake. Taken a personal hit to help others less fortunate.
Lorraine_TLA: Bravest thing: adopting a child. Everyone had horror stories to tell me. It was a leap of faith and has worked out beautifully.
FrancescaMaz: At 17, took off for college to a school where I knew no one. 1st time away from family. Built foundation of self-confidence
thisKat: Grew a company x3 and a baby at the same time.
unbjames: coming out of the closet. one by one, we are destroying stereotypes by showing we come from different walks of life
ShimmerGeek: Going along to Roller Derby on my own (Despite massive social anxiety and a life of sucking at anything atheletic)
opheliaswebb: Called off my wedding. And killed a spider in the shower. Equally terrifying.
My belief about fear and courage is that all of us are scared of all kinds of things, so the wrong approach is to pretend to be fearless. Instead, acknowledge your fears, but proceed anyway.
I also think there is a link between what we are afraid of and what we really want to do. The choice to bridge this gap is where bravery comes from.
So how about you—what’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
I’d say the bravest thing I’ve ever done is quit my job and move my family to Britain without any job prospects. And since there still aren’t any job prospects, I’m back to trying to build my own business. It’s exciting.
Going on a silent meditation retreat.
Quitting a 10 year job to move to the other side of the world with no real plan. Best decision I ever made.
Funny thing is, i’ve had far more terrifying decisions in the 2 years since that day than I ever had in all the years before it.
Each time it’s been for the better.
Left a vocational college two months before I was supposed to graduate. It sounds bad, but the college was taking its toll on my mental health. If I didn’t leave, I may have not even been alive today.
People thought I was brave for two big things: I Donated a kidney to my dying brother & walked into a 12 step meeting & let it change my life (12 years sober on 31st of this month).
I love those comments! My bravest thing: stood up to someone who was my senior who was knowingly doing wrong. My voice was shaking, but I held up.
I’m not keen on public speaking but I’ve just volunteered to teach photography in a prison…
Keeping a running list of fears (since September 2009) and systematically walking through each one. One by one. (And being quite surprised that one sometimes melts many at once.)
What an awesome post and inspriing stories
One of my braver moments: I stayed at a job after being put on probation and being told I would never receive a promotion again because of my communication style. It was horrible to go to work each day as I was embarrassed and ashamed at my behaviour, and angry at the way I had been treated by the company. The whole department was told of my screw up making work very awkward. I stayed, and made my way up the corporate ladder from a coordinator to a director over the next two years. Proving to myself that I could change and that they had been wrong to discount me. I had wanted to leave when it happened but it was my dream project and I didn’t want to regret not seeing it through.
I have a few brave moments. Adopting my niece after my sister died. And letting my son and niece go, to live their own lives. That’s hard to do as a mom.
Hmm….maybe almost having my foot amputated. Maybe moving to NYC with no job or real place to live and staying even after being in the proximity of 9/11. Blogging and completely exposing myself for all to see. So many to choose from! Love this question.
Raising my 1 week old daughter after my husband left me. He was continually there throughout her life trying to sabotage my efforts but I kept persevering. She is now living on her own, working, in her 2nd year of college and doing beautifully. I am proud of her and me!
I am about to move to Singapore, 24 hours of flight from everyone I know to start a new job and new life.
This is the fifth country I will be living in, I am nearly 40.
Still living my dream of international citizenship and life at large.
Sought out help for grief a year after my father had died.
12 years ago I walked away from a six-figure job because my wife, who worked for the same company, was being treated unfairly.
It was the scariest, and the best thing, I’ve ever done.
As one who has no real interest in living, the bravest thing I’ve done is stay alive for many years because therapists persuaded me that I have an obligation to my children.
I’ve done some of the things other people have mentioned including quitting my job and traveling abroad alone. I’m just about to go on a silent retreat too like someone else has mentioned! For 10 whole days.
I’m really interested in whether – in a difficult situation – it’s braver to carry on with something or whether it’s braver to quit. I’m thinking of the time I dropped out of university mid-term. I think sometimes we’re made to feel like continuing with that course or that job you don’t like or that relationship for the sake of the kids is that right thing to do when actually, quitting takes more courage.
The bravest thing I’ve ever done is had a child. I never wanted to be a mom but my husband wanted a child. I can’t even say how I made the “decision” or turned my heart.
But bravely becoming a mom & giving birth has led to me birthing so many other things that I can’t imagine it any other way at this point!
A life coach once advised me to ask a few friends to answer this very question about me. I thought they were going to say “Fly a hang glider 100 miles”.
To my surprise, they all said, “Moving from Los Angeles, CA to Asheville, NC at age 39.”
But since then, I left a bad marriage. That may be the bravest move to date, given how I can sometimes be loyal to a fault.
Set off across Europe alone on my bike- with no more than $100 to my name and nothing to come back to. I was scared out of my mind. Turned out to be the best trip of my life bar none! (And I’ve had many- including the Trans-Siberian just last year.) Had the added benefit of keeping me from marrying the man who I had planned to travel with. THAT would have been a disaster! Oh- and when I got back I immediately fell into the best job of my life.
Almost 11 years ago, I left a marriage that was really emotionally/psychologically abusive. People wanted “proof” that he was abusive, but of course one doesn’t have “proof” unless one has been sent to the ICU. I can honestly say that I would not be alive today if I’d stayed. I was suicidal before I left. Now, I’m happy. More than that, I’m flourishing in a non-toxic emotional environment. My new husband is amazing, and we’re going to celebrate nine years soon!
I LOVE these comments! I was brave to ADMIT I was suffering from major depression and needed help. I DID IT!! Now.. I have moved to a caribbean island to do my Phd in Coral reef reseach… it’s still ‘scary’ sometimes .. but I smile as I write this and think back to the valley I was in last year!! When I finish, I hope I will be brave enough to have a child (on my own if I dont find anyone by then)…. 🙂 AND adopt one too 🙂
PS: I’m really inspired by everyone’s posts on this topic 🙂
Moved to a big city 700 miles away from my family with my band to pursue our dream. We moved in with another band from that city who we thought were our friends but found out it was a scam after we moved there and had a month long tour booked (and had no jobs or other resources lined up) – stuck out the tour during which the person in charge tried to socially isolate me from everyone else for not doing what they wanted. When we got back I told my band that if we didn’t get a place of our own within a week that they could keep everything I owned but that I refused to be in that situation anymore. We found a place by the end of the week and have played some great shows since then.
For me: learning to accept everyone and everything. Well done, everybody!
I admitted that I was completely and utterly overwhelmed, to the point of breakdown. I have had to learn to let others help me.
The bravest? Quit the best paid job I ever had on a Caribbean island with a free house and car thrown in to move to France and give things a go with my boyfriend of the time with no real means of knowing what job I would ever get to do next or if we would even be together after the experiment….7 years later we are married (so that bit worked out!), so now I am doing the next bravest thing by launching my own travel related business – it feels like jumping off a high cliff…..
Cared for my mother who was ill with cancer for 4 years, followed by caring for my stepfather who also passed from cancer 10 months after she did.
Packed a suitcase full of diapers and other baby things to covertly leave physically abusive husband with one-year old in tow, and start over. I was 18.
I’m doing that now. I just quit my job without anything solid lined up and it is a very scary feeling. I just knew I had to do it to blast open the space for bigger better opportunities. And to identify and pursue what it is I really want to do in my heart of hearts.
So this paragraph really struck me: “I also think there is a link between what we are afraid of and what we really want to do. The choice to bridge this gap is where bravery comes from.”
My fingers are crossed. And I am thankful to have read that. It helps me summon the courage.
I really like that you brought all of these answers together. And the link you made between what we’re afraid of and what we really want to do.
My biggest fear is that my child will grow up lonely. He’s got pdd-nos, which is a mild form of autism, and it causes him to be socially awkward and to not ‘get’ people. He’s 13, in adolescence.
What I want, more than anything, is for him to learn how to connect with people, have good relationships and to love and be loved.
My fear, of course, is that he will have a life of loneliness.
This fear informs the rest of my work too, because many of my clients have the same inward struggle that he does. We all do. How do we connect and be understood and love?
What I do outwardly, in the world, is not that different from what I do in my home.
The bravest thing I ever did was stand up to my grandfather over his treatment of my aunt (both of whom have been extremely important in my life since I was a very young child).
He still doesn’t speak to me. I don’t regret it.
The bravest thing I ever did was survive cancer. I know if I could survive this, I can survive everything!
These are beautiful and inspiring. We hear so much about the bad stuff going on in our communities and world. Seeing the bravery that we all have in us and the steps and risks we take for self and others is reaffirming. Me, I stopped being a victim. In life, in work…I left a job that was abusive. I am working every day to live from empowerment and share my gift of art with the world. A brave step in and of itself some days. Here’s to all the strong and the brave!
Spent hours and hours in the practice room when I was 17, learning to play piano. Just me, a metronome, a piano, and four ugly walls with a tiny basement window. The possibility of failure–horrendous. The possibility of success–horrifying. The end result–something in between–and real.
1 month before my friends wedding ( in which I was a bridesmaid) an all expense paid trip to Spain fell in my lap! I took the trip, and had to back out of the wedding, surprisingly my friend was amazing about it! If it hadn’t been for my month in Spain, I wouldn’t have met the most amazing person who encouraged me to “Live my dreams, not dream my life.” Now, in August I’ll be moving to the UK not knowing a single person there! I’m so excited!
Quit drinking completely at age 26. Never had a single drop of alcohol since. Been 15 years. Meant taking control of my life.
Invested 25% of my yearly gross in new equipment at the height of the current downturn in Michigan.
I left a secure govt position to teach English in Brazil. When I returned to the U.S., I tried to fit back into a govt job, but only lasted one year. Made the big leap to move to a new city and go to school for film and journalism, a dream I’ve had since I was a kid. It’s been pretty scary with so much uncertainty (where to live, where to work, etc.) but it’s better than being tied to that desk and telephone in the bureaucratic maze.
I accepted a job and left ten days later to work in HR in Kuwait to be on the project to fight the oil fires immediately after its liberation in 1991. It was still raining oil from the oil fires. 20 years later I am still working in the Middle East. I am PAID to travel. Have visited all six contintents, all for my job. Do the unconventional!
I took control of my “out of control life.” Starting in June of 2010 I filed for Chapter 7. In August I made the very difficult decision to end a toxic marriage (of 6 years) and began steps to file for divorce. By the end of August I concluded I could no longer afford to live in my condo ,,, so I hired an agent and put it on the market. By the first week in September I accepted the most generous offer on the planet, from my sister and her family, to come live with them as long as I needed.
I hired a moving company to deliver 2 relo cubes (6’x7’x9′) on Sept. 26th, which I packed up, with only the most necessary items (I lived in this state for 23 years.) and did a final cleaning on the condo. My sister flew out on the 27th of September to accompany on the 1450 mile drive to PA. I packed up my few necessary belongings for ride ( in a 2004 VW convertible) which included my 125 Bernese Mountain dog named Lilly, picked up sis at airport and drove off to my new life.
The bravest thing I have ever done was leave my ex-husband knowing it was best for my kids but really that was all I knew…not knowing what the rest of my life would be was the scariest thing I have ever dealt with…but you know what…facing that fear brought me a beautiful life filled with passion and the pursuit of dreams.
Give my 18 year old drug addict son an option. To move out of our home and go to rehab with my support, or to move out and say good to me and our relationship. (holding my breath praying) He went to a years rehab. Is a phenominal spiritual yoga teacher and one of my wisest friends 12 years later.
oh! i LOVE this – inspiring stories, and the joy of lives well lived, despite making hard choices.
the bravest thing i’ve had to do is to learn to walk again – 3x – after a horrible accident, and many complicated surgeries to save my foot. did i mention i am allergic to pain meds? now i can walk, up to a block, and stand for abt 5 minutes at a time. YAY ME!
Great post! Thanks for sharing everyone! I’ve been fearless in many situations, but am now feeling some fear about starting a small business. Think I’ll just face the fear, acknowledge it and forge ahead!
Bravest thing: giving birth without any pain medication.
Hardest thing: deciding to adopt my child out to an adoptive couple many years ago and living without him.
Bravest thing: meeting my child 30 years later and having to explain why I chose adoption for him.
Several things come to mind:
– jumped out of an airplane
– bungee jumped (was far scarier than sky diving)
– white water rafted (I’m TERRIFIED of water and do NOT swim)
– quit my job of 9 years that paid really well , rented out our house last winter and hit the road in an RV (that we had never even slept in or used once) for 6 months with only a rough timeline/schedule
– got divorced from my also business partner and left the relationship and business and had no idea how I would make a living. It all worked out much better than I could have hoped.
Leaving behind my entire life (family, friends, everyone and everything I knew) at aged 17, with no plans or ideas of where I was going, in order to have the freedom to live a life of my own choosing.
Left an abusive relationship and moved across the country, having never been able to hold down a job or support myself before then. While being responsible for three cats. Now? Three happy cats, a much braver me, and a wonderful and growing small business.
To Jude – you said “As one who has no real interest in living, the bravest thing I’ve done is stay alive for many years because therapists persuaded me that I have an obligation to my children.”
I’ve been there, and been to the edge of suicide myself. My father took one step further, he did it. There’s been times in my life the only reason I haven’t done the same is because I didn’t want to put my mother through that again.
The most courageous thing I did was asked for help and started talking to people. I took personal growth courses, and opened up myself to being vulnerable and in return was loved and supported and helped to feel worthy and valuable again.
I urge you to ask for help. Tell someone how you feel, even if it’s a counselor. There are free resources available if cost is an issue. Life is too short, you want to be enjoying it – not just bearing it until it’s over.
You are worthy, you are lovable and you do make a difference.
@Margaret: It’s also very brave of you to recount your birth mother experience here! I am an adoptee who searched and found my birth parents, and have done a lot of research and therapy around this issue.
As you well know, when a mother gives up a child, the adoption agency often feeds her some very serious fallacies, like “It’ll be good for you and the child – you’ll learn to forget, and move on with your life.” But a mother NEVER forgets, and the pain of the separation decision persists. The mother then wonders what is wrong with her that she can’t simply forget as the adoption agency suggested was possible.
I hope your reunion with your child went well, and continues to go well. And I hope you’ve found healing in the process.
I stood up for myself when I was bullied at work and the “Department of no” sided with the bullies. It meant leaving, but it was on my terms and my physical and emotional well-being are a lot better for it although not fully back at 100% yet. Your blog and a few others along the way provided a lot of inspiration and helped me to keep moving forward. The support from my beloved, my friends and my family through that crazy journey is also appreciThanks so much.
Finding my way clear of an abusive relationship…and when I discovered I still needed help after four years, I allowed myself to open up, face the fears, tell someone I trust about it, and begin to be truly free.
There is tremendous power in getting to the roots of our fears. In the process, the fears lose their power and our souls gain it.
Quite honestly, bungy jumping an AJ Hackett jump in New Zealand. If you would have asked me prior to having children, I would have said “ain’t no thing”. But there’s something different about doing extreme adventures once you have kids.
I’m glad I leaped headfirst from a platform 440 feet above the ground, but I wouldn’t do it again.
Bravest thing I did was to sell most of my stuff and buy a RT ticket to London, leaving 2 weeks after 9/11. Ran out of money in a week and the scary part was figuring out how to survive in Scotland for almost six months. I did it, so now I know that I can survive on this year-long trip I’m undertaking this year. It’s still scary, but the thought of staying where I am another year is scarier.
The scariest thing wasn’t quitting my first ‘real’ job at the age of twenty and moving to a different country – that was fun!
No, the scariest thing was taking my time looking for the right doctor when I was diagnosed with a spinal tumor. Your first instinct is ‘get this thing out of me!’ – but it took me almost 6 months to find the right doctor and treatment.
It was the longest six months ever, but as I was looking for a surgeon who wasn’t going to butcher me leaving me deformed and disfigured I tried acupuncture which actually shrunk the tumor (but not enough) and then finally found a surgeon who managed to take out the tumor with only leaving a couple of small one inch scars.
It was the hardest thing to go to surgeon after surgeon (btw, I negotiated consultation fees with all of them; insurance doesn’t pay for a half dozen ‘second’ opinions), hearing over and over again that what I had in mind couldn’t be done. But surgeon number 7 did it 🙂
Anything related to letting relationships go with the faith that they will take there own course for the best. The old “if you love someone letethem go” bit. Never easy, but always creates life-changing dynamics.
The bravest thing I’ve had to do so far was to respect my mother’s wish to not be kept alive by extraordinary or artificial means and to let her go. My children and siblings were with her when she took her last breath.
Fought for disability pay and rights after I’d been denied and given up hope of receiving them. I won, against one of the largest, toughest insurers in the nation.
I shared my disagreement over the use of language regarding people with disabilities to a board of editors at my journalism school. I stood up in front of a room of more than 30 people. Most. Embarrassing. Moment. Ever. However, it lead to me meeting with a couple of editors in private afterwards. I did work on an internship with one of the editors a few months later.
Great responses! I love the range of answers – proof that “bravery” (like pain, happiness, or anything else) is all relative and personal.
For me it’d be a toss-up between calling off my wedding with 36 hours to go, moving from Canada to the U.S. for a new job without really knowing anyone, and deciding to try fiction writing in spite of feeling that I have no background for it.
Walking out my door with a backpack. Runner up: coming home again.
Eloping after dating for 6 weeks. (and knowing each other for only 2 weeks prior to that).
Refused to pay bribe to a Mexican customs offical.
I was a high steel ironworker for over 25 years! Worked in ND, MT, WY, CA, HI and NC. My daughter is an ironworker too – in fact, we are the only mother-daughter ironworkers in the entire USA!
I followed my heart. I still do (even at the risk of losing it all).
Changed my religion to Islam at the age of 18, knowing no other Muslims, and not knowing whether or not I would have the support of my family.
Going to graduate school. I definitely am not your typical grad school material, I wasn’t guaranteed funding, and I was terrified I was throwing away an awesome career in pursuit of…nothing. Turns out I’m pretty good at what I want to do.
I’ve moved away from home, knowing nobody, to go to college; then moved again to a new town, knowing nobody, to work on an unpaid internship. Neither of these seemed brave to me, although I was called brave for doing it. The only thing I’ve done that scared the hell out of me is to end a long relationship with a good man.
Broke it off with my fiance after 10 yrs of dating. Moved to SF. Called myself a writer for the first time ever. Foreclosed on my house in the recession. Reinvented myself.
Met a girl over a long weekend and flew to Israel the next weekend to be with her. We’ve been together 3 years now and got married last October. I currently live in Israel with her.
I split up with my husband 5 months pregnant with our third child. I live 350 km away from a doctor or hospital. At 34 weeks pregnant I drove 2600km to have him near my family (so someone could care for my 2 older kids) and then came back 3 weeks post-op (c-section) and got on with my life. The ex lives in another country where he is from.
The hardest choice I ever made for myself was to give up unsecured credit including credit cards, 20 years ago. Now I live in the here and now and it has changed my life in only good ways.
I have done other scary things, and things others thought I should be scared of. Losing the marriage to my high school beau, and selling the house I thought I’d retire in, was full of grief, but I did not have a choice. The credit thing was fully inside me, and that made it more powerful.
Years ago it was -Kidnapping my girls away from a father who had illegally taken them out of the country, while the state police were on my trail.
Now it is – living a full and productive life with Multiple Sclerosis
I am convinced that the first brave step makes the next ones seem so much easier.
Surfed overhead waves in Costa Rica as a beginner. I keep a picture of myself on that humongous wave in my office – if I can do that, I can do anything scary in my business.
Love this question! Some answers seem obvious so it pays to dig deeper. I think the bravest thing I ever did was give a talk to a group of nonprofit leaders 2 days after I was fired as an executive director and publicly humiliated in the newspaper the next day. My board chair implied that I had misused funds since he had no other excuse to fire me (he replaced me with his girlfriend), but everyone in the room had read the story. The next day I started work in another nonprofit, again knowing everyone had read about me and probably questioned my integrity. Something important to the story was the bravery of the people who stuck by me. The person who invited me as a speaker didn’t rescind the offer and later offered me a senior consulting position saying, “your being fired unfairly gives you invaluable experience to share!” Also the person who gave me a job immediately was brave. He ignored the humiliating press about me – he never even asked me why I was fired. That gave me courage!
Developing the strength and responsibility to care for my mom through her brain cancer till she passed away 5 months ago, while caring for my dad as he (still) battles colon cancer.
I love the comments! 🙂
For me, there’s no one real “act of bravery” that stands out–I’ve done lots of things in life that some might consider “scary”. But what each one teaches me is that when I’m in the moment and trying to decide whether or not to move forward with my big scary decision, I’m totally freaked… yet when I come out the other side, most of the time, I realize, “hey, that was easy!”
And this lesson has inspired me to take a lot more chances (for better or for worse). When you step back and look at the big picture, the chance you take may be carrying you in the right direction…… so, take it. 🙂
The bravest thing this year for me was to walk into my boss’ office and stand up for myself and the work I’ve contributed. I was fully ready to quit when she said no to what I felt I deserved, but to my surprise she said actually said “yes!”.
It feels good to not be a victim to the money-hungry carelessness of a huge corporation and, instead, hold my head high until my next brave act of leaving to start my own business that will positively impact the community. Thank you for the post! The comments have truly been inspiring!
At the end of this month, I will be leaving my comfortable 6 figure job to stay home with my 1 year old and to discover my passion. I’m a little overwhelmed at the uncertainty of the year to come, but have never felt more excited and free in my life.
Just completed online application for a job after 2 years of struggling as a consultant. Brave because my biggest critic is me (oh what will it look like if I take a job – “my business wasn’t a success”)…
Remarkable stories above give me a feeling of support and belonging.
Learning to let go of possessions, that I was once so afraid of losing. Now I feel liberated and free every time I sell, donate or lose something. My aim is to be able to live in a tent with everything I need. Why? Because I am really facing my greatest fear – I have left the corporate world to study Animal Welfare and Management – the fear in this was not losing a salary, but that in this work I will have to see animals hurt, and that I won’t be able to bear it. It still terrifies me, but I know that to have this much love for them and not use it – for me, is a slow death in a human body. Being who you truly are – that is the bravest (but the only) thing you can do, to be truly happy.
Very inspiring questions and I love reading all the responses.
My dad would say the bravest thing (or maybe the stupidest) I’ve done is confront a burglar who was trying to break down my neighbor’s back door. He didn’t have a gun so it ended up okay.
I would say the bravest thing I did was climb a mountain in Belize the day after breaking a rib. Whenever I face an seemingly insurmountable task now I remind myself that if I could climb that mountain, I can do anything.
Bravest thing I’ve ever done…
1. Moved away from home.
2. Quit my job working at my parents’ business (minimum wage!).
3. Said no to my parents when they make ridiculous requests.
Not being afraid to say no, especially to people you’ve loved for so many years, has got to be the most important thing I’ve learned how to do.
becoming a parent and knowing I would be doing it alone.
I founded my own charity without two nickels of my own to rub together.
Move out to BC on my own. I was homeless for two weeks.
Everyday is a new adventure, filled with fear but mostly with appreciation because fear for me is a sign for me to grow and become more.
I love my fear.
Admitting that I couldn’t and shouldn’t continue to hold onto an 8 year relationship that wasn’t good for me or my partner (from age 18-26).
Now time to rebuild my life, enjoy myself and make life happen!
Moved to LA with $500 dollars, no job and no place to stay. And now I have a great job with lots of learning development, a great place to live a block from the ocean and I’m living in my favorite place in the world at 23. Worked out for me!
My next brave things to do is to run a marathon (March 20th!) and ask people I’m attracted to out.
Shutting down my business, moved my family to the Philippines to work among people who had nothing and little chance to move out of their situation. The brave part was learning from those people lessons that will stay with me for life.
Raising my two young daughters by myself; I’m a quad.
I accepted a dancing job for a MAJOR show that I was in no-way qualified for (the other dancers had been doing it 5+ years, I had been doing it for one) because my dance teacher thought I could. I had an amazing time, danced my heart out, and got asked to be a member of the troupe.
Wow! Great question. The bravest things I’ve ever done are:
1. Quit a job that was killing my spirit and move 2000 miles away to my dream location without a job waiting. I ended up getting a dream job in my field that has allowed me to grow personally and professionally.
2. I take roughly 40 eighth graders whitewater and camping every year on our class trip even though I’m not much of a camper and the first year I was terrified! It changes my students’ lives, and I get to witness it every year.
3. Up next: I’m trying to work up the courage to leave a profession that used to feed my soul but no longer does. Who am I if I’m no longer a classroom teacher? Still a teacher…but what does that look like? Yikes!
Quit my job, sold my stuff, moved to Sydney Australia last november to avoid living a distance relationship without anything up for us there (no job, no friends, no place to stay). It was a planned response (an underdog strategy) to one of the most powerful gatekeepers (immigration). They can screw your life or force new opportunities. I prefer to think the latest and work hard to make my way.
Drove a guy that was having a heart attack to the hospital, and saved his life.
The bravest thing for me was to get the courage to leave my husband despite financial limitations and stop making excuses for him.
I overcame 30 years of unhappy, screwed up life. Call it depression. It took a decade of therapy with no guarantees, with just one person to stand by me—the one I paid, and it became as cumbersome as a 2nd full-time job. As awkward, grueling and embarrassing as going through adolescence all over again. Now I often feel incredibly lucky that I stuck with it and was able to transform my life. No matter what I do, I probably won’t top this for bravery.
Awesome topic! I love everyone’s responses. I know I always hear stories about people moving to other countries or taking crazy trips and how great it is, but rarely that it was a scary thing to do. It’s really reassuring to hear I’m not the only one who thinks it’s terrifying!
The bravest thing I’ve done is to move away from the city I’d called home all my adult life. It meant leaving school and a job to start over again and trusting a friend and myself, but I did it and don’t doubt for a moment that it was the right thing to do.
I love the point you made Chris about our fears being tied to what we most want to do. I’m still trying to figure out exactly what that is for me and I feel like that insight really helps 🙂
Having the courage to open a yearbook to “meet” my biological mother. She died when I was four. Then, to pick up the phone to call my newly discovered biological sister.
This is specifically for Jude.
I’m glad you’ve stuck around for your kids. I hope you understand how much that means to them, even if they themselves don’t fully realize it. I really hope you find something that sparks your interest in life again. I’ve struggled with severe depression off and on for many years and was hospitalized for it a year and a half ago and finally got help. I wish I could say that fixed it, but we both know it isn’t that easy. I still can’t say I’ve found a reason for living, but nowadays I hold out more hope that I will someday.
Quitting college and my job to move back home to take care of my 92 year old Great-Grandmother. Many people, including friends, told me I was throwing my life away. Actually, that was how I discovered my life and purpose.
Chose my own life and being mother to my two living children, and consciously chose to end a pregnancy that was literally killing me (I was in the hospital and diagnosed with clinical starvation due to Hyperemesis Gravidarum). I’ve never, not even once since doubted my choice. But approaching that choice and making it? Bravest moments of my entire life and my husband’s as well.
At age 22 – Moved to a new place where I knew no one, about 6 months after the death of my father (which happened to occur about 6 months after the death of my mother). I grew up rather quickly then, and it was the best decision I’ve made thus far.
Second bravest thing (after it happens in June) – Attending the World Domination Summit! I registered even though I don’t think I’ll quite fit with everyone else there…but it’s the thing that scares me, so it seemed like the right thing to do!
The bravest thing I ever did? Stop a debilitating addiction to crack cocaine [cold turkey] and then enter a 5-month long drug rehab programme. This entailed giving up just about everything I owned and moving out of Vancouver, to Abbotsford, a small town about an hour’s drive outside of the city.
All of my bravery has a theme. I took a stand for myself, walked away and didn’t let myself break. I filed for an annulment. I walked away from a man who was using suicidal threats to guilt me into staying. I walked away from a cheater who swore he loved me. I told someone, “I no longer believe you.” I said no to them and yes to me. Being that I’m more of a giver than a taker and shy to boot, these things were all extremely difficult for me, but I knew I had to do these things to honor myself. Some of them were also very public and very humiliating, but they made me a stronger person. I proved to myself I can handle anything.
At age 16, I left my home country to come to college in the United States. I picked a major I never heard about before because they’d pay for my school. It was the only way to get off the island.
8 years later at age 24 with an undergraduate and graduate degree in that major, I left school to write full time online in a completely unrelated field.
I cross my fingers everyday that turning my back on 8 years of free school to pursue something that I’m really passionate about is not the dumbest decision that will come to define my life.
I quit my boring but highly paid job as a commodities reporter to fulfill my dream of traveling, finding my long lost travel voice and being a travel writer.
What a lovely list, Chris. Courage. Courage. Courage. Staring down the barrel of your fear and pushing it aside. I got married.
My Bravery List……
1. Moved to a state where I did not have any family or friends
2. Took a job that required 80% travel when I was afraid of flying
3. Did a 3 week tour of a country where I barely knew the language
4. Currently trying to identify my life’s purpose
I have done many brave (daredevil) things in my life, including driving a motorcycle at over 180 mph on one wheel, standing up to every boss I’ve ever had (often-times with understandable results). But the most bravest thing I’ve done so far, that has shaken me to the core even to this day 5 years later, was standing by my girlfriend Pamela after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer till she left us.
Went through breast cancer treatment x2 while establishing an alternative healthcare practice in a city where few people knew me. After 7 + yrs of building it to comfort level, walked away to recreate a more authentic life. Moved 1500 miles away to make art for a year & cultivate my relationship while I figured out next steps. The relationship ended before the year was over & I’d run out of money.
Now I’m practicing art & medicine together and have incredible opps coming to me including a 2nd large painting commission and a possibility of creating therapeutic arts retreats in a hospital setting. I have a loving and talented community of friends and I trust myself to create whatever is closest to my heart.
My family used to think my choices were irresponsible, but now they tell me I inspire them repeatedly. Be willing to risk all; in the end you’ll only regret what you didn’t do.
Between jumping out of a plane, having a car hit me crossing a parking lot and still getting the chills every time a car passes me today, I will still say the bravest thing is performing. I used to be terrified of expression, public speaking, and being the center of attention. The bravest thing I’ve done and continue to do is sing about my personal life on stage to complete strangers. My soul is completely vulnerable and open, yet fearless. I feel the less your life is shaped through insecurities and fears, the more authentically true you are to yourself. Because you are in control making decisions. By openly sharing my weaknesses in music, not only am I confronting them, but I bring closure connecting them to others who may feel the same.
The bravest thing that I’ve ever done was definitely quitting college. I went for two years only because it was “what was expected.” This decision may not sound like much but it was the start of me deciding to live my life on my own terms and figure out what I really want to do in life. I’m going to start my adventure with a trip to Nepal this summer and work to pursue a life in travel writing.
An amazing assortment of stories shared here – all equally as brave.
I’d say by far the bravest thing I’ve ever done is 4 years ago leaving a city life for a country life. I quit my city job with a decent wage and living in a nice house to move to the country where I now work at an apple orchard that pays just over minimum wage and live in a caravan.
Never been happier!
Gave up my addictions of 30+ years to alcohol and an eating disorder. Still sober after 15 months and getting better all the time.
The bravest thing I did was quit a job just two weeks after getting hired. I only took the plunge for the job because I needed some cash and I had nothing much to do. After training and the initial two weeks, I realized.. it wasn’t really for me. The routine was easy… but that was the problem. Going through that for 6-7 more months would feel like hell for me. It paid well but I felt like it could never work out. That move got a lot of reaction from everyone. They tell me it pays good, so why quit? They tell me jobs aint easy, it was an opportunity wasted, etc..
They don’t understand. They never will. Only a few know why I did it. Had I not done that… I wouldn’t be thinking about doing a business and I wouldn’t be learning Japanese (which I do 1-2 hours every day).
I posted yesterday but I’m still thinking about this.
I quit my job at the end of 2009, telling everyone I wanted to change my life, go traveling etc.
Everyone said I was really brave, as I didn’t have another job and with the recession and everything, there was no guarantee of getting one. Lots of people said things like, “I wish I had your courage!”
Actually, looking back, it was the opposite. I wasn’t brave enough to stay in my job. I knew they’d be making some people redundant, not renewing short-term contracts and so on. Although they always had renewed my short-term contract, I was scared I’d be next to go and I really didn’t want to be rejected like that. For me, quitting wasn’t about being brave. It was about not being brave enough to stay. I was less scared about not finding another job than I was about being rejected by a boss I really liked.
I suppose what I’m saying is that what appears brave to some people might actually be quite the opposite.
Coming out to myself, coming out to my family, coming out to my friends.
Coming out is the hardest, bravest, and best thing I’ve ever done.
I’ve just had my first book published on Upptacka Press and after the elation of someone saying, ‘yes, we’ll publish your writing’, comes the fear of it being ‘out there’. This caught me by surprise, as I thought after waiting so long, I would just be on cloud 9.
I’ll get over it of course, but there seems to me to be the fear of thing that we know and the unexpected fears!
Recently, my resistance, saying “no” to people who don’t understand that i prefer work my painting everyday instead of doing anything else. And, iIfeel brave because i am keeping ( since 20 years ) with my painter-life in this commercial world!
Long time listener, first time caller….thanks for the blog-based retweet Chris. Love your book, anxious for number two (shameless plug: nominated my “story” for it via your online form). I think the 121 folks above me have all struck the right chord here…courage is going after what you believe in, regardless of the risk or consequences; it’s about having the confidence in who or what you are, to walk your own path. I had a great job, with great benefits, great pay, and endless amounts of security…but something was missing. The last 13 months have been spent charting a new course, attempting to fill that void. No regrets.
The bravest thing (so far) would be raising a family. My son is now 9 months old and I want to be a good role model for him. A close second would be: going to Afghanistan, coming back and beating cancer, quiting my job and going off to get married.
For me it was committing myself fully to my family and a career job that would support them. Wow!
against my deepest forms of terror, i let myself really fall in love. all the bumps, unknowns, compromises and vulnerabilities included.
Skiing and ski lifts, when I have a complete knee trembling body freezing tear inducing fear of heights. Every minute of every day was pure white out fear until I finally let go and screamed at the top of my voice going down the slopes, and turned the fear into thrill and excitement. Am going back again this year!
The bravest thing I have done is to accept that I am no longer employable in the traditional sense. No more 8 to 5 cubicle life for me.
Finally coming to terms with the fact that I am not and will not ever be happy and content with the traditional conforms of society. Finally admitting that even with my fancy degree I am happier tending bar, traveling, LOVING, and just being ME!
Choosing to be a whole person, go to college, and start a business despite disapproval from my super-conservative women-in-the-kitchen church. Choosing to remain there, at least for now, to shine a light for others. Choosing to live honestly over being approved of, which is not a natural choice for me.
I left an abusive relationship. I was so beaten down by all of it that it took me years to find myself again, but once I did, there was no turning back. It was literally the best thing that I have ever done for myself, but trying to actually extricate myself from that, especially with the explosive way that it ended, was the hardest thing that I have ever been confronted with (and I’ve lived through a lot of hard things!). Best news–I’m happier now than I’ve ever been, confidence and self esteem are being restored and I am learning to love myself for the first time ever. Rock on!!
To everyone who has posted (and to you Chris of course) – you are totally awesome. Being who you truly are, rather than living a role that someone else told you you should – you are all doing this, and this is where joy lives. You will be such an inspiration to people trapped in their old story – you each remind me of the indomitable spirit of humankind, and I thank you for the time you have taken – this link really has inspired me and many, many people.
I loved reading all of the comments about what people think is their bravest accomplishment. Thanks for starting the conversation.
The bravest thing I’ve ever done was be honest, and I don’t just mean with myself. I mean exposing my downfalls to other people (whether I trust them or not). Sort of a conscience cleansing.
I divorced my husband of 11 years. Due to my mental illness, our three children stayed with him. It wasn’t easy for my family to accept, but it was the right thing to do.
Spent the last two years learning how to acknowledge and approve of myself.
I grew up in a time when acknowledging yourself = vanity and seeking approval = achievement.
So freeing to love me.
Facing open heart surgery at age 21, scared that my life was over before it had begun.
Facing life without my wife of 12 years, who decided recently to go her own way.
Living an intentional life, deciding that I am not blown around by the wind, I AM the Wind!
Bravest thing would be to attach my name to this:
After 22 years of being the daughter of a verbally and physically abusive mother, I finally had the strength to stand up to her (physically) and eventually verbally. I didn’t plan it that way but that’s how it has to be sometimes if the person isn’t willing to meet you on neutral ground.
I was certainly nervous to go, but I had to fulfill a decade long dream. For some reason I always wanted to visit Myanmar in Southeast Asia. After months and months of planning and the trip came closer, my friends and I realized: they are having their first election in 20 years!!
While we could have backed out after reading some of the newspaper headlines. We went ahead with the trip and had an experience of a lifetime.
The bravest thing I have ever done is asked myself “Who am I?” It’s easy to ask the question, the brave part is unlearning all the ways you learned to “survive” in this world from when you were born, process it and emerge transformed….just like the butterfly.
Ended a two year relationship with my high school sweetheart/the boy next door who offered me a life of security. I ended things because I was in love with someone else and wanted to give myself a chance to really be happy. I’ve learned a lot from this experience.
I left the business sector; and lots of money; to go back to school at the age of 45, to follow a lifelong dream of teaching-for a lot less money. Few people supported this move; and many criticized me; but I am so much happier now! And like so many others who’ve written; I’ve been working on being honest and true to myself instead of being a people-pleaser. This takes a lot of courage.
I left all my friends and family and moved to Dallas, TX when I was 22. I didn’t know anyone here. I just knew I need to make some changes in my life.
You guys are all so incredibly brave, it makes me almost ashamed to say what an easy life I have had so far. I’m wishing for a chance to prove to myself that I can be brave too.
Hard to know which is the *bravest* thing I have done but the one that comes to mind recently is giving up the American corporate dream of becoming a Vice President and attaining a leadership position in Fortune 500 company. I gave it up the instant I knew I would be able to do it and yet, I would find it to be the emptiest and most ill-fitting “dream” so I let go and have never been happier with the new path I have chosen. Thanks Chris, great discussion. See you in WDS in June. Stoked to be coming!
I think it’s brave because I plunge head-first without exactly knowing in what I get involved… I participated in Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles in 2009 in Morocco desert, but on a quad! We were only ten on over two hundred women to do this that year and it’s the avereage every year. It was frightening at some times and amazingly wonderful at others. Now, it miss me !
Left a 6 figure income job to move out to the country and build my own house. I had next to no building experience, but learned as we went. The building inspector said it was one of the best built houses he had seen that year.
You know… I have backpacked through many parts of the world as a single woman on my own, I’ve lived in a developing country in less than stellar circumstances and I’ve quit a fancy stable job to “explore my options.” I’d moved to New York City- barely out of high school- with $600 in my pocket. I’ve had an anaconda wrapped around my neck, I’ve snorkeled beside a large shark, and I’ve camped alone in the woods. I’ve run (literally, run) from a violent relationship, I’ve allowed myself to fall madly in love with my best friend, and I’ve walked down the “courthouse” aisle in an electric red dress. I’m now training for a marathon and learning how to scuba dive and starting a small business in a foreign land.
I guess these are all brave things.
But, I think the bravest thing I have ever done was to accept that I am far more than what I’d been labeled as a child: “a dummy” who “will never amount to anything”… and to begin to live accordingly. To begin to accept all the good I am.
Deciding to make a go of creating and selling my art, thanks to encouragement from your Art & Money book, and walking away from a successful psychology practice that no longer fulfilled me. Deciding to take a 12 month sabbatical with my husband from both of our jobs. We’re still planning it-will let you know how it works out!
A three way tie between: Overcoming depression and domestic violence in my teens & 20s; Confronting my father in my 30s and creating a healing relationship between the two of us; and leaving my steady corporate job in July 2008 to travel, write and life coach.
I just gave 2 weeks notice at my job without a real plan in place other than to discover my purpose and passion. Not sure how I’ll pay rent next month…so I’m feeling pretty brave right now…or maybe just crazy!!
saw god, freaked out, kept an open mind to see him again
I’ve always believed the bravest thing you can do is to face your biggest fears no matter how small those fears may seam to others. I am now overcoming my life long sense of worthlessness. That I can achieve much more than I’ve been told I will achieve. Learning to trust myself and the people around me is also a big step in the right direction for me.
Getting my graduate degree in Counseling Psychology with no money. Leaving a toxic relationship a year into the program. Seeing clients one-on-one.
Changing careers from Architecture to Marketing for 6 months then realising I didnt enjoy marketing at all and lying to myself that I did like it. When really I love architecture, so going back in the field is scary exciting and 101 other emotions.
The bravest thing I ever did was go back into a dead marriage and resurect it into a many spelndored thing !! So hard to do but SOOO many great rewards now ! Glad I decided to try one more time !!!
The bravest thing I have ever done was allow myself to fall in love, be heartbroken, fall in love, be heartbroken and still be willing to risk heartbreak for love again and again.
I’m not so sure I’ve completed my bravest thing yet–I think that will be finally accepting myself and my lifestyle. But, until I can manage that I challenge myself to do more and be more–at work, in my social life, and when I was in school. Trying to actively create positive habits, that’s my bravery so far.
I thought the bravest thing I had done was quit my job, sell almost everything I had, and travel to India to “find” myself. But it’s true what someone said: It’s braver to come back and try to fit in again. Now I’m more creative, or rather, I’m acknowledging and accepting my creativity and I’m writing a book about my journey of self discovery in southern India! It was awesome, a life transforming adventure. I’m planning to take off again at the end of the year, but not quite sure where I’m going next.
I moved cross country to have a relationship with my daughter (who was 4 at the time). Then 9 years later moved back to the place I love to do what I love (my daughter can fly on her own now). Both moves were hard and scary.
I went backpacking through Asia for 12 weeks without a plan or guidebook. There I conquered a few fears like jumping off a 45 foot cliff in Thailand and getting licensed to scuba dive when I was afraid of diving! When I came back, I moved to Colorado without a job lined up and it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve made!
Sharing my pain and story of the death of my brother and a close friend in front of a room of people I barely knew. And crying about it. I’m not an emotional person.
Learned to skydive when I was 52! Some people call it stupid, not brave, but I love it! Who cares what other people think?!
Another note-someone I admire once said something about bravery that has stuck with me. There are two types of bravery-there is an active bravery, where we stand up for something despite our fears and the opinions of others, and there is also an enduring bravery, when we have the humility to endure something that hurts us. Both have equal value. Both involve incredible courage and humility. But sometimes we have no choice but to choose for ourselves how we are going to face our fears. Do we make the first punch despite our deepest fears and out of protection of ourselves and those we love, or do we accept a slap to the face, not out of fear but of the courage to face what life has laid before us? Either way, there is no fear in love, and there is no fear in humility. Remember there is always going to be a second right answer.
Scheduling dozens of interviews even though I had no intention of getting the job to gain valuable experience with my interview skills. This gave me the ultimate training run for the real deal.
Bravest thing I ever did: left home. It’s that simple.
Cut off about 2 feet of hair sold it to a wig maker, sold pretty much everything else in the apt too, to buy a one way plane ticket to New Zealand when I have never even flown or been more than a days drive to home. I had one interview lined up and now I live in NZ and have a fantastic job.
Making a new start after losing everything, at 57, commuting 4 1/2 hours a day on public transport from Tijuana to work in a San Diego phone room.
I’ve always been pretty anxious about sharing my ideas with people for fear of negative judgement. It’s led me to be somewhat perfectionsitic in developing me ideas, reworking them often, but never sharing them with many people.
So I decided to just go ahead and try to share one with the world, to put it out there to any judgements people are willing to make. It is a non-profit project for charity, and if you wish you can take a look.
Moved from Europe to Chicago, IL two months ago with two suitcases and knowing no one. Jumping forward without a safety net is an unreproducible feeling.
After 15 years away from it, going back into the culture, community, family system and even home where I survived incest to heal to even deeper layers.
Let myself fall in love again. I’m trying at least 🙂
Moving with my wife to New York state, no job lined up, no money coming in (except for hers) so that she can follow her career that she loves.
A few times in my life I get tears in my eyes (almost crying). After reading about twenty human bravest things on this beautiful list Chris gathered I got those tears.
Bravest things: Being a parent. Standing for those that work with me.
Chris you rock.
Bravest thing I have ever done was to kick my alcoholic out. It hurt a lot, and the whole saga did not end well, and I’m still healing from all of the trauma, but I did it, and I AM healing.
(I only wish they were, too.)
I’m a late responder to this message Chris, but I guess there have been a couple of things that I’ve done in my life that could be classified as ‘brave’.
First I stood up to an abusive partner, said to myself ‘I absolutely do not deserve this’ and divorced him and secondly I made the difficult decision to put motherhood over a mortgage and quit my job to be a full time stay at home Mom.
Luckily the fates were on my side and both of these decisions were the very best things I could have done.
Raising your expectations of yourself and others goes a long way towards a remarkable life in my experience.
Thanks for your insights.
i deferred housemanship (or you may call it internship in your part of the world) to try and make a U-turn back into the world of music, or at least trying to find a balance between music and medicine. Many in my part of the world would consider that a really foolish and non-sensible decision but i……”took the road less travelled” (Robert Frost, 1920).
I went to grad school to get a master’s in a subject that I love.
I told the truth. Two months away from my big wedding with an amazing man I knew I didn’t love. It was hard as hell! But I was honest with him. I hurt him, I know. But in the long run, it was for good. He is married now to a woman who values him more that I could ever do. And I am at peace.
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