When the Vanity Fair “Call Me Caitlyn” cover came out, it took the internet by storm. Literally every social media site was flooded with her images, and it seemed that everyone from politicians to hair stylists had an opinion about her transformation from Bruce to Caitlyn. I was happily surprised that the bulk of the reactions were supportive and complimentary.
Most commented on her physical appearance – how elegant and stunning she looked in the pictures. And while I agree it’s hard not to be envious of her gorgeous legs (that no amount of cycling or squatting could EVER earn me) , that wasn’t my first reaction. I was absolutely blown away by the courage it took for her to decide that after 65-years, she was finally going to show the world who she really was.
Showing the world your uncensored, genuine self can be incredibly HARD. It makes you totally vulnerable to a world of criticism and judgment; but when that brave decision is made, it has a ripple effect. Marianne Williamson once wrote, “….As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others….”
To me, you can’t compare or quantify this kind of courage because everybody’s journey is different – what takes courage for one person, might come easily to another. It can’t be measured by a calculator, ruler, or Richter scale, but that is exactly what people in social media are trying to do right now. As the sun set on Caitlyn’s first day in the world, the fickle tides of the internet turned against her. Once her nomination for the Arthur Ashe award for courage was announced, people were quick to point out how her courage paled in comparison to others.
*** My point of contention is that there are NO pale shades of courage ***
Courage by its very nature is bold and bright – which is why it makes the world seem more radiant and hopeful when we witness it. When fear presents itself to someone and they don’t back down, that act of bravery deserves our kudos, not our condemnation. Not only because of the courage it takes to face fear head on, but also because of the inspiration it provides to others. Along with Caitlyn, there are so many other beautiful faces of courage – each one causing its own amazing ripple effect in an otherwise weary world. ALL equally magnificent and awe inspiring:
1. A 5-year old who puts a smile on his face and decides to kick cancer’s ass like a ninja turtle….
2. A woman facing the remainder of her life without the man she spent over 68-years loving….
3. The woman who endures stares and snide comments while she fights to get her life back….
4. The police officers and firefighters who stare fear down every time they go to work….
5. The shy kid who stands up to the bully who has made his life a living hell….
6. The athlete who isn’t deterred by words like “disability” or “handicap”….
7. The woman who leaves her abuser in search of a life where love doesn’t equal pain….
8. The teenager who rises above the influence of her peers and dares to be different….
9. The social activist who doesn’t just dream of a better world, she makes it a reality….
10. The soldier who knows the true meaning behind the phrase “No man left behind”….
It’s my hope that you’ll remember Caitlyn and the rest of these beautiful faces the next time you encounter ANY act of courage. Then instead of trying to belittle or compare that act against others, just say a simple word of thanks because they all shine a collective light that makes our whole world brighter.
And for that, I’m incredibly grateful to every one of them.
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