Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Autism Answer: I Am Not Brave (Though I Do Brave Things)

I am not brave.

Often people will tell me that I am. Because I comfortably share many ugly mistakes I've made and offer my memories to strangers without filters or make-up or dressing them up.

I put my moments and beliefs out there naked often, and often they are unusual or controversial. But I am not brave.

Instead, I am surrounded by so much support and love that sharing my mean mistakes and odd truths is simply not frightening. Well, not overly frightening. Sometimes I am a little bit brave.

Now and then I'm attacked for my stories and thoughts. These attacks are rare, but have been harsh. I don't enjoy them, but I always always always learn something from them. Whether it's because I'm challenged to clarify my meaning (I've made friendly conversation with people who were initially offended and in return offensive) or because it reminds me that our different beliefs--which I encourage myself to accept and appreciate--can clash and become explosive. Or even just as a reminder that while I live surrounded by kindness, there are millions of others who do not.

I am mostly lovingly encouraged to share my stories. Family, friends, and my online community is filled with folks who find beauty in flaws that blossom into open minds and new seasons of understanding. Even when my beliefs are not agreed with or even forgiven, I'm encouraged. I am not brave, I'm encouraged.

And because of this the attacks feel mostly like bee stings. They hurt for a bit, and invite me to think about the nature of bees along with their value. I am not brave, but I am supported and loved and encouraged, which is why I easily do brave things.

I am not brave, but I am forever grateful! And I have decided that more than teaching my sons to be brave, I want to make doing brave things easy.

Yes, sometimes we, my sons and I, also have to be brave. Or we're asked to be brave. But when most of the time our brave things are made easy, then being asked to be brave now and then is not asking a lot. Rather, we're being invited to step outside the edges of our comfort zone where the magic of clashing and complimenting ideas and beliefs mingle and mix and explode into new things.

I am not brave. But because my mom had to be consistently brave, lacking support and kindness for much of her life, I value bravery. Her bravery saved our lives. And because I value bravery I step outside the edges of my comfort zone. I "do" brave when I've had enough coffee and the weather is just right. Or when I'm placed in a position where it's required. Then I also do my best to be brave. 

So for those of you who are forced by circumstance to be brave, I applaud you and love you and offer you my support. And for those of us who are surrounded by so much support that being brave is hardly needed I encourage us to continue sharing our mistakes and moments with open minds and honesty.

I am not brave, but I invite you to join me in continuing to do brave things.

Hugs, smiles, and love!!

Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook) 

For a deeper dive into some of the brave things I do, check out my book Spinning in Circles and Learning from Myself: A Collection of Stories that Slowly Grow Up. A book, I've been told, I was "brave" to write. Though I still suggest that I am not brave, my book is a brave thing I did.