Brave Soles founder Christal Earle stands in the middle of the street in the Dominican Republic.

Learning to #BeBrave in a Ball Gown

When the invitation came into my inbox, I didn’t open it for two days. I thought it was spam: “Congratulations! You are one of our nominees this year in our ‘Fashion Impact’ category.”

It was signed by Vicky Milner, the President of the Canadian Fashion Awards.

I looked it up tentatively and yes, this was a real thing. In fact, it was also kind of a big deal!

If I could be totally honest, the first thought I had was, “Oh gosh, what am I going to wear!?!” (Big shout out to my fave rental crew in Toronto, Fresh Rents). 

As I walked up to the entrance of the Royal York Fairmont hotel in Toronto one month later, I started to laugh to myself. As a kid growing up on a farm in Saskatchewan, I used to see photos of this hotel and this city and imagine what it would be like to dress up in a ball gown and go to something special at a place like this. 

And now, this was me. For real.

Yes, there was a red carpet and yes, there were some unbelievable outfits parading around at the event. As I stood in line waiting for a red carpet photo, I also met some amazing and inspiring personalities. 

In the middle of it all, however, was this woman named Christal, who kept hearing this little voice in the back of her head that reminded her of all the reasons that she was not supposed to be there. 

And as the 800+ people moved en masse to the dining area and the program began, the voice wouldn’t let up sending me the reminders of how crazy it was that I was in that room at that time. I was seated between an Apple executive team and a famous hip hop artist. Across the table from me was a TV personality that I only recognized when I handed him the butter and he smiled (with amazing teeth, might I add!).

And finally, when they called out our category and our nomination, and as our website and my photo popped up on the screen, the people at my table looked over and started throwing out their congrats from around the table. I smiled bravely and graciously said thanks. However, the entire time, I felt like I kept checking over my shoulder for the authenticity cops to come out of nowhere a lá “Men in Black” style and drag me away for being an imposter. 

Did I really belong here?

As I held my breath while the hosts tore open the nomination envelope from the stage, I realized that it didn’t actually matter if we won. And, in fact, we lost out to a major Canadian brand that has been in the industry for over 20 years. 

Sure, it would have been amazing to have bragging rights to something so prestigious. But for me, that night there was something more that happened.

That night there was a very real victory at table 103 with the woman sitting in her rented white ball gown with a death grip on a glass of red wine. 

The victory at table 103 was that I had shown up. Not just that night or in that moment in time, but in innumerable moments in time before that...and in the innumerable amounts of time after it, as well. 

To show up really just means that you are willing to feel the fear, stay the course, and move beyond it. 

I have shown up when my life seemed like it was so far away from where I wanted it to be that I felt crazy for being willing to try one more time.

I have shown up when people reminded me of all the things I was either not doing right or should be doing better. 

I still show up when I don’t feel like it, when I am terrified of what the outcome will be, and when I want to shake my fist at the sky because nothing seems to be going according to plan. 

The only thing that causes fear is the fact that we don’t want it to be there. Fear exists because it is meant to be felt. In the end, I have come to realize that fear is simply my resistance to my own growth and willingness to stretch. 

This is what it means to be brave in life, and all of us can do it. Bravery is whatever you choose it to be. 

Do you know someone heading back to school or going for a first day? Help them #BeBrave and share this with them!

Follow me on IG this week I’m sharing my scary #BeBrave moments all week long.

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