By: Maria Farag I’ll never forget the way my eyes glistened and gleamed as I anxiously sat in my seat and watched Shailene Woodley in the cinema when her movie Divergent first debuted in Egypt. The 2014 version of me sat in awe, admiring Tris’ (her character) ability to overcome fear in a split second. A skill that I lacked at the time. I remember very clearly looking over to my sister wide eyed halfway through the movie and for once in my life, being at a loss of words. I think it was from that moment on that I made the conscious decision to be brave. And dear God, I’m so glad I did. I spent years and years of my life before that movie, terrified. My comfort zone was above everything else to me, and there was no way that there was ever going to be anyone that was going to force me to tap out of that. I think a part of that was because I grew up being the youngest of three siblings, so people always thought (they still do to be honest) of me as the baby of the family and in turn, they were overprotective. So it was because everyone treated me like I was fragile that I began believing that I was. Until I realized that that fragility was a concept that simply acted as a shell to cover up who I really was. That was my ‘eureka!’ moment. I suppose the idea of not understanding who I was at the time was exactly what gave me the motivation to find out and it was through that that I had summoned up the bravery to defy gravity. People often come up to me nowadays and tell me that I’m either crazy or stupidly brave, and I want to tell them that I am neither. They’ll ask me things like ‘why do you shave your hair?’ Or ‘how can you talk about such taboo subjects in such a conservative society?’ And I can’t help but want to sit them all down in a circle and explain I that I used to be that shy kid at the back of the room for most of my life. I was that person who never spoke out against wrong, because I was scared. I wasn’t always ‘Loud and Proud’. I was, in my eyes, a coward. I don’t always talk about that part of my life though, and it’s not because I’m ashamed of it, it’s just that I don’t think many people would be able to grasp the idea that having bravery doesn’t mean I’ve eliminated fear from my life; it just means that I’ve developed the muscle that helps me to understand that there are things superior to it. I believe that that’s where many people fall. I hear it every day from my friends: “I can’t do that, it’s just not in me” or “I’m not like you!” Well damn son, I wasn’t always like me either! There is no recipe to bravery, it’s just a decision. It’s telling yourself that you’re going to do something, because the voice inside you is stronger than the voices surrounding you. C.S Lewis will forever have my gratitude for writing this line, because I say it to myself every day when I wake up. To this day, it’s what keeps me going. “Courage, dear heart.”