Around this time of the year, many people begin to write out their New Year's resolutions to work on improving themselves in some way. My social media timeline becomes polarized as people either love the idea of a personal resolution or they absolutely cannot stand the idea. Most years, I do not even bother because you are lucky if your resolution lasts into February. This year, I feel differently. I really want to challenge myself. I have been reading a lot lately about Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of blessed memory. I feel inspired by his life to be a better person and a better Jew. I know that this is not necessarily something "Jewish" to do because it centers on a secular holiday but I am inspired so I am going to use some of that push to take off.

This year, I resolve to be more brave. I do not know if it is my anxiety or perhaps it is a side effect of being human, but silence and comfort are easier to listen to than a call for bravery. It is a lot easier to focus more on what I am feeling than on what should be done. This past fall when I was raped, I was not going to tell anyone. I wanted to contain it all within me and not have to deal with it or other people. I felt the tug of wanting justice on my heart but it was more comfortable to not have to face the process of reporting the rape. In the spur of the moment, I told my Rabbi what had happened. My Rabbi said that while the decision was up to me, there are times when we need to be brave and seek justice. With her support, I went to the hospital and talked with the police. Those moments required so much bravery.

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Going through what had happened over and over in front of strangers meticulously recording my words. Being in a room full of men I did not know wearing only a hospital gown and a blanket. I needed bravery to fight the urge to run and scream as I laid in that hospital bed, surrounded by sterile sheets and cold metal. I needed bravery in the following days in order to face every day life and stress. I still need bravery most days when I am haunted by flashbacks or nightmares. I needed bravery to be vulnerable. I need bravery to speak the truth. I need bravery to keep going.

In my every day life, I still need bravery. Bravery to speak out against every day injustices. Bravery to speak out about things that matter to me. Bravery to not be afraid of other people and bravery to trust other people. I need bravery to be optimistic about life when the situations are not going well. Bravery to love people and be open to their love. Bravery to seek peace when there is strife. Bravery to apologize when I have wronged another. Bravery to try new Jewish practices and rituals that I have not experienced before. Bravery to be vulnerable in front of others. Bravery to be willing to make mistakes and bravery to learn from them.

Bravery is such a beautiful thing. I look to the leaders in my community like my Rabbi, who displays bravery often. She is an example of a righteous person. She seeks justice for those who need it. She is not afraid to do all that is necessary for another's well being. She is brave in her voice and actions. She is brave in trying new ways of helping people connect to Judaism and to G-d. She inspires me to be brave, even when I am afraid and remaining comfortable where I am is tempting. I look at my friends who are very brave. My friends love unapologetically and live the same way. They are strong, they are loving. They are brave. I look at the Torah and examples of bravery overflow. I look at people of faith and see their bravery. I want to be brave like them. I want to be brave.

My New Year's resolution is to be brave.
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