They call me brave.
I submit that there is more bravery in the world than one could ever fathom. Quiet acts of survival, love, support, even stubbornness.
I live out loud because I know I can't do it on my own. I need people as much or more than they need me. I suppose the thing that makes me stand out is that I unabashedly live for connection. To reach out. To lean in. To hold tight. To sit in silent acceptance. To laugh in comfortable companionship. Yes, there is rejection, but it floats away like dandelion seeds on a river surface. It is worth dealing with rejection to have found the deep solace of an answering, "Me too."
I feel the authentically deep need of those around me. I give love because it is needed, and because I need it. I'm not even a little bit ashamed of that.
Maybe that makes me brave. Maybe I don't know any other way to be.