The Importance of Courage in the Development of Girls

Adolescence, the awkward transition period between childhood and adulthood, gives girls a choice to assert or conceal themselves, and the latter may be easier to do when girls’ body and personality changes intersect with oppressive norms and gender stereotyping perpetuated in social circles and the media. Their fear of standing out or being inadequate is enough to mute their voices and dilute their uniqueness … unless they’ve developed courage as a behavioral response. Courage is considered the foundational virtue of every other virtue. Aristotle called courage “the first human virtue.” Poet Maya Angelou declared, “Courage is the most important of...
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The Courage To Cut It Off

Trust yourself. Think for yourself. Act for yourself. Speak for yourself. Be yourself. Imitation is suicide. – Marva Collins I spent several moments in front of the bathroom mirror with my hair pulled tightly back, angling my head from left to right, imagining how I’d look with a short, coily style. I hopped up on the counter to get a closer look at my new growth and to try to determine its pattern. I held pictures of beautiful, natural women next to my face to decide if I could pull it off. I was 19 when I considered cutting my...
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My ABCs of Freedom

I’ve learned that when I have difficulty maintaining freedom (of thought, expression and response), I have difficulty acting courageously. So, I wrote personal ABCs of freedom as a reminder to myself that my life is my own. (You can download a blank template at the bottom of the page to create your own ABCs of freedom.) Photo credit: CATMAX Photography Save

Courage and Freedom

Volition. It is the first of three core components* of the concept of courage, outlined by courage researcher Dan Putman. It means that an actor, by her own power and free will, decides for herself. She neither gets a cookie for doing what she is told to do nor a gold star for doing something out of fear of reprisal—no matter how difficult or risky a circumstance may be. Courage requires her to choose freely. And freedom requires her to be responsible for personal choice. In this way, courage and freedom are closely linked. But recognizing their connection is much...
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My 92 Year Old Aunt Describes Courage

I sat on the edge of a plastic covered antique couch across from my great aunt. She slouched in a wingback chair that she obviously cared much less about preserving. It was a favorite spot in her living room, which had looked precisely the same for the past few decades except for the 42” flat screen TV both of us were watching. The Chew had gone to commercial break, so I decided to ask her a question. But not just any question—the question I frequently dropped on unsuspecting subjects at appropriately random moments. “Aunt Kathleen, what is courage?” She slowly...
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Journey To Courage

It’s late, and I’m sitting Indian style on my tan leather sofa with a book draped across my lap. The Psychology of Courage. I retrieved it from the mailbox earlier in the day and opened it with the same mixture of excitement and anxiousness that I opened Publisher Clearinghouse envelopes as a kid. Only this time, I wasn’t disappointed. My giddy thoughts drifted as quickly as I flipped through the pages. When would I begin it?  Would the authors respond if I reached out to learn more about their research? Where would this book lead me next? Why am I...
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