Courage is a quality often discussed in connection to executives of organizations, soldiers on the battlefield or entrepreneurs of new ventures. Courage is not a quality reserved for adults. In fact, developing the ability to act courageously is critical to youth being all they can be. Here are six reasons why youth need courage.
To Stand Up
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, one out of every four students report being bullied during the school year. This means youth have the opportunity to stand up for themselves or someone else – actions that could result in isolation or retaliation. However, these actions could also result in increased confidence, strength of character, and sense of purpose. Courage makes it possible for youth to draw upon their internal resources, focus on possibilities and withstand the discomfort of confrontation.
To Stand True
Mass culture reinforces convention and stereotypes at ever turn, making it difficult for youth to embrace and express their uniqueness, awkwardness, queerness or dopeness. Throwing a side-eye to everything that doesn’t reflect their truth is hard AF (As Fractions – math wasn’t my strongest subject). But, if youth are unable to courageously resist limitations society places on them, they will let watered-down versions of themselves persist. Watered-down is better used to describe sweet tea, not youth.
To Expand Boundaries
Youth default to their comfort zone when they don’t have courage, much like a computer defaults to sleep mode when it doesn’t get a command from a user. Comfort zones persuade youth to sleep on themselves because they offer youth familiarity and protection. But, they do not offer growth. Youth need courage to abandon familiarity and to pursue personal expansion, freedom and opportunity – all of which exist in the unknown.
To Clapback on Setbacks
Courage is multi-purpose. It helps youth take risks. It also helps them rebound from disappointment when risks produce less than ideal outcomes. Inaction after defeat isn’t unusual, but it also isn’t necessary. Courage is the driving force that can help youth consider what went wrong, adjust their approach and try again … in the form of a resounding clapback.
To Be a Model for Other Youth
When youth are able to act courageously, they become a model for other youth around them. Researchers like Nelson Goud have found that observing someone respond to a situation with courage can influence the observer’s own actions in a similar situation. This suggests that when youth allow their courage-powered lights to shine, they give permission to nearby friends, haters and strangers to initiative their own glow up.
To Set Themselves Up for Adulthood
Youth’s ability or inability to call upon courage during the adolescent stage of their life will impact, for better or worse, who they develop into as adults. Studies have shown that adolescents with low self-confidence are more likely to be depressed as adults. This is important because confidence is central to courage. Building up courage as a youth gives a person a repository of courageous experiences to draw upon as an adult.
Youth need courage in order to give themselves a fair shot at fully developing into all they are capable of being.