A Note on this Months Theme: Courage
Courage comes from the moments where we didn’t feel it at all.
First and foremost I’d like to welcome you to The Rad Mag! A safe space for creatives, activists and young people to come together and uplift one another. When I was thinking about starting this online space, I knew I had to come from an emotional place. Luckily I no longer have the pressure of looking good for college applications looming over me, so I know for sure that I’m doing this for myself. Which is terrifying. This past year was one of the darkest years of my life, and at times I felt like I had no where to go. I wanted to funnel my emotions into something where I felt heard and appreciated, but until now I have realized that what I needed had to come from myself.
So I want to start this space with a story of courage I finally have the courage to tell.
I don’t think of myself as a courageous person. I think of myself as kind, hardworking, artistic, independent, maybe a little eccentric. But never courageous. Courageous people jump from airplanes, and become firefighters, and go camping (I’m really scared of camping). Heights immobilize me, the responsibility of saving someones life crushes me, and camping is an absolute no-go.
I thought of myself as more nervous, cowardly. I didn’t think I have ever done a brave thing in my life, and I didn’t think that I ever would.
In the spring of my sophomore year in high school, I went on a school trip with my classmates and favorite art teacher to New York City. It was the first time I had traveled with friends outside of California and parents were barely in the picture. Maybe that was a little courageous.
A very embarrassing photo of myself on that trip.
It was my first time there since I was three years old when my mom and I had lived there while she was starring in a play. Central Park led me along the paths where we walked, and the trees whispered to me like her lullabies. NYC was no stranger to me, so maybe not so courageous.
Although it felt like home, I never felt so isolated before. At the time I had been in a relationship that wasn’t good for either side, and I was so numbed by the arguments that I shrunk to the size of a seed in the Big Apple. The problems were too big and I was convinced it was my job to fix them, and I lost who I was completely.
I distinctly remember the time I gave up on myself. We had just come back from a long day of museums and abnormally large pretzels, but all I remember was her leaving me in the hotel hallway, frozen in confusion and pity for myself. I don’t even recall what we had fought about, or why it was “my fault”, or why I had to be sorry. But I wasn’t sorry at all. I hated myself and everything I had let happen to me. Courage was a waste of time.
Unfortunately there’s not many places to hide when you room with your partner in an NYC hotel, and I needed to be by myself. So the next best thing of course was the bathroom. With a book and my 15 year old angst I shut myself in, and didn’t open the door to anyone. For four hours. I was so wrapped up in stress and self-loathing that I decided it was better to pretend no one knew where I was. I was so ashamed of everything.
But in good old fashion growing up, I now know that was the best decision I could’ve made. Courage for me in those moments was to pay attention to my needs as best I could. Breaking up or saying how I really felt seemed like too big of a task for me, so I did the next best thing I could at that moment for myself. And that was pretty damn courageous.
I’ve thought about what would’ve happened if I didn’t make that choice. If I hadn’t listened to my inner voice and had just tried to “fix” things. Or if I finally said “I’m done”. But those four hours were a defining turn in my life, one I’m now proud of myself for doing. Kind of a middle finger to all I had ignored about myself; especially that ignored courage.
Courage means many different things to different people. It could mean singing in front of an audience, or voicing your feelings, or moving to a new country. And courage is always changing forms, you just have to look for it. By recognizing the acts of courage you do everyday, the big things become not so big anymore. In my personal experience, the more I have recognized my courage, the more people around me are able to find their courage. And that’s why I founded this space, and decided that the first theme of the very first issue had to be courage.
Cutting my hair was definitely a courageous act!
Over these past few months, courage for me has been being more unapologetically myself. Listening to my needs, trusting my inner voice, and communicating my truths. But most of all embracing all the times I’ve regretted something, or made a stupid mistake, or I realized that I wasn’t who I thought I was. There’s nothing more that I love about being human then messing up and loving yourself more for it.
Thank you for coming along this journey of courage with me. You are brave, you are loved, and there is way more world out there for you to kick ass in. So go do it stupid!!!