I remember reading books in elementary school that displayed courageous acts; great acts of defeat, acts of gallantry. Where the main character went in for the challenge and despite all odds, came out on top.

What I learned many years later, was that courage was not what I thought it was at all. There was one big area that everyone seemed to brush under the rug, and not even acknowledge.

It’s that stare you in the face reality. That thing that happens when you’re down, when you fall, when you fail, when it doesn’t work. That moment in time when you’re “there” in the bottom of the trench; struck with pain, mental anguish, a broken heart, a lost job, a lost loved one, a failed attempt.

Quite often we hear the rhetoric; “get up and brush yourself off and keep moving”, and that’s absolutely valid. However, what happens before the brush off? When your head is down and you’ve just taken the hit? What are we experiencing in those seconds that feel like weeks? How are we supposed to process it? It’s just never spoken about.
My hope is that by reading this, you don’t waste years like I did trying to be courageous as defined by society.

Here is how I’ve chosen to redefine courage.

Courage is the not the absence of fear, it’s the conquest of it.

Courage is being fearless despite the previous scuff marks.

Courage is feeling fear and doing it anyway, knowing that it may not work knowing that people are standing on the side lines. Some cheering you on and some waiting for you to fall.

Courage is not thinking about choosing, it’s making a choice knowing that it could go either way.
Courage is not talking about your wins, while failing to share your losses.

Courage is not being embarrassed by, but sharing your struggles.

Courage is sharing your losses at the risk of being judged.

Courage is being willing to fall.
Courage is falling.
Courage is falling and feeling it.

Courage is falling, feeling it and owning it.
Courage is falling, feeling it, owning it, and getting back up.
Courage is wearing your war wounds.

Courage is showing your war wounds with pride.
Courage is asking for help.

Courage is asking for help again, if you need it again.
Courage is being vulnerable, and not knowing how people will respond.

Choose to be courageous and experience your life as it was meant to be lived, with falls, with wins, with tears and with smiles. Know that the falls are mandatory to realize the wins and the successes.

It’s ok when it doesn’t work, give yourself the space and permission to be present in that moment. It’s ok to feel crappy, just don’t stay there for too long, because that moment won’t last forever and it will get better. There is so much life to be had and experienced beyond the temporary pain.

If you haven’t fallen and felt the sting, the bite, the heart wrench… and gotten back up with tears in your eyes, you haven’t lived.

You were born courageous in every way shape and form, there is never anything to prove.

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Stay amazing, you always have been.

Originally published at medium.com