Websters says Courage is mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.
Wikipedia says Courage (also called bravery or valor) is the choice and willingness to confront agony, pain, danger, uncertainty or intimidation. It goes on to say that physical courage is bravery in the face of physical pain, hardship, death or threat of death, while moral courage is the ability to act rightly in the face of popular opposition, shame, scandal, discouragement, or personal loss.
Urban Dictionary says that Courage is the ability to confront pain, fear, humiliation, or anything else a person would naturally stay away from. Can be divided into Mental and Physical courage. Mental Courage encompasses threats, attacks, and discomfort of the mind. Physical Courage is pain, hardship, torture, and death.
So there seem to be 2 categories, right? Mental and Physical. Makes sense, I guess. With both mental and physical courage, it is the ability/choice/willingness to confront something. Just do it according to Nike. Get ‘R Done if you ask Larry. I think it’s pretty clear in my mind about physical courage. You just take a deep breath and do it – trusting the outcome you are conditioned for. Rip the band aid off – knowing it will rip the hairs out, but quickly. Jump in the pool, knowing the water will be cool and refreshing. Stumble through the dark to flip the light switch. To me physical courage is bravery, but talking about mental courage – that’s a different animal all together in my mind. Mental courage is the strength it takes to be brave, the faith it takes to believe, and the willingness to see it through.
Courage is obviously a buzz word in my life. I have it tattooed on my arm. I used it in naming my blog. I use it as a brand for my Courageous project with the Beautiful You MRKH Foundation. It’s a word I easily identify with, and in many ways it’s how I approach my life. Websters says courage is the mental strength to venture and persevere. If you had asked me about courage a few years ago, I might not have given it much thought. I probably wouldn’t have thought that my actions or choices could be viewed as courageous. I wouldn’t have felt like I could be an inspiration to anyone, or that people would think I was brave and strong. I was pretty comfortable with myself and my life, but I hadn’t found my niche. I was quietly searching – but for what, I didn’t know. Always curious (it’s a sign of intelligence they say!), I was wandering around the internet when I found the Beautiful You MRKH pages. I started reading, and I started making connections, and I was inspired by the bravery and the strength of these women who were publicly talking about MRKH. The more I read, the more I started to comment – and as I did, I could instantly see the effect of sharing my experiences helped. I grew more comfortable talking about my own journey, and naturally I began really digging back through my own history. As I reflected on my own life, and the choices I have made all along – I recognized my own strength, resilience, and the way I faced each challenge was saturated with courage. The courage to be strong and brave – without knowing the outcome.
I have the courage to talk openly about MRKH and it’s roll in my life. I will answer any honest question, even the embarrassing ones. I will use terms that might make you blush, but I do this knowing that knowledge is power. I will tell you that I talk so openly in an effort to educate, but more importantly to reduce the shame many women feel when they receive their diagnosis. I want to empower and celebrate women with MRKH.
MRKH shaped my own life, in many ways I don’t even fully understand all the implications it has, as they seem to change as the years go by. As a teen, MRKH made me feel like an outsider, a freak. I never got initiated into the world of periods and staining white pants, needing a pad or a tampon in my purse. And then there is the whole stretch your vagina in order to be able to have sex…yeah, not one of my friends could have related to that! That was a quiet and personal shameful journey I had to take completely on my own. As a young woman, MRKH made me a medical oddity, a freak. I had to jump through all kinds of hoops just to join the Army – not to mention exploring options for starting a family. It came to a point where I pretty much just put MRKH on a shelf, and refused to give it any attention at all – because it was just too painful – but putting it on a shelf didn’t solve anything. In fact, the avoidance tactic just made things worse in the long run.
As I have said many times, when I do take the time to sit back and reflect on my life, I see that I really did have a lot of strength and resilience. I got through a whole slew of challenges with just blind faith…wait, that’s Courage.
The word courage evokes quite an image for me. I see strength, honor, dignity. I see brave men and women fighting in our armed forces. I see brave men and women fleeing war-torn countries. I see people taking a stand for what they believe in. I see proud hard working people achieving their dreams of a better life for themselves and their families.
I will leave you with my all-time favorite courage quote from the incomparable Amelia Earhart:
Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace.