Lena Dunham on daring
I am often called brave. By strangers, by critics, by dudes in business meetings. I guess that’s because I take my clothes off on television despite not having a classic beach body, or if I am giving these people the benefit of the doubt, because I express emotions and attitudes through my work that are often concealed, particularly by women. But my response, again and again, has been that it’s not brave to do something that doesn’t scare you. This mode of existence comes very naturally to me.
“Bravery” and “daring” may not be the exact same thing, but they are close, sisters if you will, words that would be used to invoke an old-timey arctic explorer or Evel Knievel. According to the dictionary, brave means one is “ready to face or endure danger or pain.” Daring, rather, is defined as “adventurous courage.” I’m afraid I can’t apply either of these adjectives to what I do for a living. I am also the girl who went home from India two weeks early and was too scared to take a dunk in the cold Rhode Island water this summer.
I will tell you what is daring: Daring is the woman who, despite a breast cancer diagnosis, picks her kids up every day at school and uses her journey to light the way for other women. Daring is a female politician saying “Yes, I do believe I can run this country” despite the country having shown very little daring when it came to women’s issues previously. Daring is the transgender teens so committed to being themselves that they have to knock on the door of a homeless shelter rather than remain with family that cannot see them.
I won’t shortchange myself because, yes, I have been daring before: When I finally admitted to myself and others what my sexual assault had done to my life. When I stopped keeping my mental health issues in the closet. When I’ve allowed myself to be vulnerable. When I fell in love. And it felt good. Really good. I hope you will allow yourself those moments of daring every day, whether they take the form of a skirt you never dreamed you could pull off or a dream you never thought you could share. This way lies freedom.