• J. Faith Malicdem

Bravery and Resilience: Words of Wisdom for Times of Hopelessness and Despair

By J. Faith Malicdem // Dec. 31, 2019

Artwork by Christine Park


Everybody gets a little butt hurt every once in a while. I know I do. Each hardship lies on a spectrum of pain: getting no laughs at a good joke told during an inopportune time (which is equivalent to a scrape on the knee), being told you’re no longer loved by the person you love most (equivalent to a punch in the gut), the list goes on. These are instances that help define the makeup of our emotional knowledge. But how, and to what extent, do our hardships, traumas, poorly times icebreakers, and breakups mold the inner-workings of our minds and our hearts? And how does growing up affect the way we combat feelings of heartbreak, despair, and hopelessness?

When going through a difficult time, I reached out to a few people I look up to, prompting them with a series of short questions:

what do the words “bravery and resilience” signify to you? do you think you’ve obtained these qualities? if so, how? if not, are they qualities to strive for? Why?

I figured these would get the job done. They were short, to the point, and open-ended. I needed words of wisdom to scare off whatever monster was lurking in my own shadows, waiting for a fleeting moment of despair to haunt me with thoughts of ragged self-deprecation and grimy hatred for the world around me. My loved ones’ words would shed a new light on my outlook toward love and life itself, and I saw this project as the biggest stepping stone leading to my recovery from a broken heart.

And I got just what I was looking for.

But the project came to a halt when second semester of senior year accelerated, demanding ultimatums from friends, college commitments, and goodbyes that would jab at an already-”broken” heart that was trying its best to mend itself.

I then got caught up in other projects, ones involving music, rebuilding valued friendships, and preparing myself for the biggest feat I had taken on yet: college. But despite all the hustle and bustle exhibited in a mere seventeen year old’s day-to-day life, I grew to come to terms with loving myself more and more each day—regardless of whether or not someone else loved me just the same.

After launching PieFace, I went through all the pieces I had put out on the Instagram page, and there I found the first and only part of the series that I was to call “Bravery and Resilience,” (I know, very clever) presented on a crappy photo of my indecipherable writing on a gifted journal. Frankly, I’m embarrassed I never followed it up.

And so, here I am, ready to share responses I’ve gathered since my sloppy (but successful, and ongoing) path toward acquiring bravery and resilience. Because although I’ve come a long way in the last year, there’s always room to improve. There’s always room to grow more brave and resilient. I hope these words of wisdom mean as much to you as they do to me.


“Bravery and resilience go hand in hand. Bravery and resilience are characteristics that develop over time. I think people can be naturally brave... I think resilience is something ingrained within every being. I believe I have obtained resilience and bravery through pain. I didn’t and still don’t have anyone advocating for me. I have to be brave and resilient because that was my only choice. I still struggle with bravery due to fear but strive to live unapologetically. I do think these qualities are essential but one should not actively strive for them. I think it will organically develop through time and experience. I think setting them as goals is a healthier approach. It is best to be yourself and try to improve upon that. Qualities like resilience and bravery are intertwined with being true to yourself.”

- baisebleu, one of the bravest and most resilient people I know

“I do think I’m brave in some aspects, I’m able to look at myself through a different lens, I’m really good at accepting my flaws and improving myself. I always take my problems head on, I don’t choose to avoid my problems- I don’t beat around the bush”

“I’ve completely altered my mindset in the way I approach life… I try to take every experience success and mistake, and I take them and grow from them.”

“What you’re doing now is kind of an example of bravery in a way— it’s very easy to wallow in your pain and problems, but it takes guts to take action and move in the right direction.

- A haphazard series of quotes I got down while dear friend Sean von Miller spoke freely


thank you for reaching out to me :”) I want so badly to find the right words to say to you~ I don’t know how much these will help you, but I hope they bring you some comfort + peace!

heartbreaks, o man. I know that times like these can have you feeling very fragile and vulnerable, and i first want you to know that both of these things are okay, and everything that you are feeling right now is valid. I think that resilience and courage are two things that I am still discovering for myself and still grappling with how to express. something I’ve always believed in is the healing power of time. and it always sounded so cliche to me, but lately I have seen the way that time truly does heal. I think the hardest part is having to give these things time, and endure the process. but there is definitely a lot of growth coming your way, Faith! I think that some of life’s most crippling and clouded moments bring the greatest seasons of transformation and clarity. this is a part of your story, and I encourage you to claim it and bloom from it. I love you so so much, and I’m gonna be here through it all. please never hesitate to reach out!!”

- Rachael Dewey, an angel I looked up to in early high school, who still serves as a role model today

“Determination and recovery are how I interpret ‘bravery and resilience.’ They signify an individual’s mental strength because they willingly place themselves in an uncomfortable position and are capable of making a quick recovery from the difficulties. I show optimism and have seen an improvement of myself when placed in these uncomfortable positions. Bravery and resilience are characteristics I strive to achieve because of how significant of a role they play on personal growth. They hold the foundation that helps us overcome the constant stress and failure we will inevitably face. It’s something that everyone needs in order to fulfill their desires because without it, what can you do?”

- Ricardo Soriano Jr., one of my closest friends with one of the biggest hearts I know

“hehe so you didn’t ask for this but fuck it I don’t care, bravery to me, or at least right now, is having the courage and strength to acknowledge a problem and being able to face it, in the context of feelings, I

believe the purest form of bravery a high school kid can show is taking all of your negative feelings and emotions and literally grabbing them by the balls and saying “hey fuck you, I’m trying my hardest here and the last thing I need is for you to fuck it up” it doesn’t need to be that strong, but facing it instead of running away is what I consider bravery to be. Things don’t just magically fix themselves, if you got a problem, deal with it, talk about it, confront it, if we don’t do those things we doom ourselves to suffering. being able to stand back up after being knocked down over and over again is a sign of bravery”

- An “idiot,” a brother who gets on my nerves every five seconds, yet stands as my biggest rocks to this day

“bravery and resilience means to me someone who is emotionally, mentally, and sometimes physically strong and someone one who can take the harshness that life throws at us (and overcomes it) along with being someone who is willing to help others even if it might be a risky situation to do so.”

- Aresha Echols, a bass goddess and intellectual for whom I have the utmost respect

“Bravery to me means confronting a fear, whether that be something simple like pushing yourself to perform on a stage or something more complex like opening up to a loved one. Resilience on the other hand signifies a persisting quality of bravery, as in continuing to confront something regardless of the fear it evokes. In my own life, I lack resilience. I am striving to find the ability to continue to recognize things that hold me back in my life, confronting them and continuing to overcome them.This is a major hurdle in my journey towards maturity, and a trait I hope to hone into a more prominent part of my personality.”

- Jerry Fern, a journalistic colleague and one of the funniest friends I have

“To me bravery means that you acknowledge your fears and you still put forward an effort to bypass or overcome them in. Resilience to me means that you continue to push forward regardless of the obstacles that are going against you. I think that I have showcased some of these qualities in different scenarios, but I don’t think I can say that I’ve consistently practiced them because it’s hard to always be brave and always be resilient.

- Miles Kealing, a friend I hold near and dear to my heart… it’s only T u e s d a y

"The words bravery & resilience have powerful significance to me. They are the key to survival. With all the stressors & challenges we encounter everyday, I believe it is vital to develop & master these two qualities. I know there are certain moments in my life where I overcame obstacles by demonstrating bravery & resilience, but I don’t think it was enough. I would say that I have more fear than courage, depending on what it is that I have to face. To me, everyday challenges require resilience… In order for me to survive and overcome challenges and compete in this society, I must find ways to obtain these qualities to their fullest. It is important for us to train our minds to develop resistance to all the negative emotions we have to face. I think without these qualities, humanity will cease to exist”

- Phantom Victoria, a wonderful photographer and phenomenal gift giver

To me Bravery doesn't mean that I’m never afraid, it means that I’m afraid, but I move forward anyway, even in the scariest moments. When I try to push emotions away, they often just become stronger. Instead, I acknowledge that I feel the way I feel. This way I will be able to better deal with my emotions, when I’m honest about them… I stay away from judging myself… I focus on what I’m feeling in the moment without judging it.”

“The ability to adapt and move forward from adversity I feel requires a unique combination of behaviors, thoughts, and actions, all of which can be learned… Having confidence in my own abilities can drastically amp up my resilience as it helps in many ways to build up my self-esteem using positive affirmations, practicing self-compassion, and eliminating self-criticism. I feel resilience is important for our survival, but sometimes we need a little help and guidance...”

- Ms. Woodwick, a mother who is passionate about loving all those who surround her

“Bravery & resilience means whatever the world throws at me, I absorb it, gut out what I can take, face the

rest and move on. Using the qualities of resilience, I overcame depression and withstand my ground & morals to become the person I am today… I think it’s extremely important to develop resilience, because if you don’t, or you give up, the negative aspects will win you over.”

- Roadwarrior, an idol I’ve been looking up to since I was a child

To me, bravery and resilience signify someone’s capability to be confident in their actions and who they are, and to be able to take responsibility for them—whether good, or bad…

So, have I obtained these qualities? No, I feel that in this past year I have become the person that everyone else sees me as, and haven’t allowed myself to express my true character for fear that others won’t like, or accept it.

I do strive to be brave and resilient, but my greatest challenge will be to overcome my contentment and partial satisfaction with the person I am now…”

- Robin Jones, a fellow creative who is talented beyond belief

“From my perspective, bravery and resilience signify the growth and strength in an individual. I do think I’ve gradually obtained these qualities, due to having gone through some tough moments in my honestly short lifetime. I believe people are challenged with difficult things to learn and grow from. Pushing through the hard times and coming out of it as a stronger person builds up one’s bravery to take on the next challenge life brings. I eventually began to take my anxieties and turn them into a goal to live happier and to do more things out of my comfort zone that I never thought I’d do. The bravest people I know did things they never saw themselves doing.

- Elisa Pitts, a go-getter who has never doubted who she is, what she does, and why she does

“I don’t believe I’ve fully achieved resilience or bravery and I don’t believe I ever will get to a place where I do fully achieve them. Yes, I have brave moments and have a resilient personality iin most cases and the only reason I do is because of difficult situations and experiences that have cultivated that in me. My resiliency comes from experiencing moments that have torn me down. My bravery comes from times where I know I could have stepped up to be brave and wasn’t. But for me, it’s a constant process and the human experience provides moments to grow in that.”

- Cory Hancock, a beloved mentor of mine from a journalism summer enrichment program (where it all began)

“I think bravery and resilience go hand in hand. You need one to be the other, whether that’s needing resilience to be brave or bravery to be resilient….

I don’t think one “obtains” bravery and resilience. Rather, I think they enact them. Bravery and resilience isn’t something someone owns. They’re qualities that someone acts out. There are times where I am brave and resilient, but I also have times where I back away from conflicts and my own problems. I strive to be brave and resilient when I need to be because that’s what I have to be. But, it’s also okay to not be those things all the time. I think there’s always a lot of pressure to be a hero, but I think sometimes it’s okay to be a bystander. Sometimes bravery is just recklessness, and it’s times like those when cowardice is the most logical choice of action.”

- Seren Cho, a counterpart who I spend pretty much everyday with, and am thankful for the ability to do so

“Bravery means facing one’s fears head on and not calculating risk before taking action. Resilience means pushing through and pressing in even when the odds are against you. It often means choosing hard things

I think I’m on a journey in growing in both these things. To be brave means choosing things that expose one’s fears and choosing that isn’t always easy.

- Cynthia Baker, a mentor who successfully guided me through the biggest shift in my life

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