“Love what you love, baby,” says joy-inducing podcaster Lani Diane Rich. I’m happy to admit that I love her podcasts. And she and her awesome co-host Dr Kelly Jones inspired me to read Rising Strong, which is slowly helping me to be a braver person.
But, despite the influence of badass people like this, I’m so shit at the courage it takes to love what I love.
It’s the time of year when the Arrowverse TV shows return, and I retreat to my anonymous tumblr account. I bury my head in the fandom sand and pretend, to everyone else, that I don’t love what I love.
I write my fanfic – which I’m pretty damn good at, by the way – and tell no one about it. No matter how much joy it brings me. It’s not real writing, after all.
I read the comics I get curious about, but I don’t mention where I discovered most of my favourite comics characters.
I’m this spineless about pretty much everything I love.
I wish I loved more nerd-cool things, like anime or D&D or (being seriously into) comics. Instead, when I listen to the cool, well-informed people who love those things, the mean voice in my head says you don’t even do being a nerd right. Instead of noticing that these people have been brave enough to love what they love since way back when what they loved was not even nerd-cool. They just loved what they loved. And I love them for it.
Starting at Samhain (31st Oct), I’m trying a Year of Being Brave. An outside observer might think that I’m good at Being Brave – the ‘capital letters’ kind of bravery. I moved to America for a year when I was 18. Everyone knows I’m LGBT – mostly on account of my marriage! – and I’m open about my autism and disability. I’ve blocked roads in front of Downing Street for disability rights, and I’ve picked up my entire life and moved to another city to study for a Master’s on a whim. I don’t look scared.
But I am. I’ve been afraid for so long, I don’t know anymore how to live a life that’s authentically me and mine. I don’t know how to be brave – small letters.
I no longer know what the small acts of bravery that change the world are. And I want to remember.
I might need a bit of cheerleading. Not for the Brave things, like the tattoo I’m planning. (Okay, maybe about the public storytelling I want to do…) But I need encouragement to talk about – and keep going with – the little acts of bravery. My fanfic writing, and the TV shows I love, and my strange mix of religious perspectives. My addiction to self-help books and weird podcasts, and my enthusiastic autistic ‘real’ self who comes with some anxiety and some very silly songs about my cats. My undying love of a research data set.
And with the even harder ‘little acts of bravery’. The courage to stay positive and friendly with people who could harm me – living as I do in a society that doesn’t always wish me the best – but who also might be the best people I’ll ever meet. The courage to speak my mind, even if what I say sounds autistic or weird, and has me wishing I’d just stayed quiet as soon as I walk away. The courage to sit in my wheelchair in front of someone who decides their philosophy degree gives them the right to say “disability doesn’t exist” and tell them my truth.
I don’t even do nerd-cool right, but I want to be brave enough to be who I am.
And with that, I’m off to watch The Flash. It’s one of the most poorly-written comics-based shows on TV right now, and it has so much heart. It’s really brave, and I love it.