Reshma Saujani’s manifesto to being brave in 2020

When I lost my first congressional campaign, I went back to my hotel room and cried. I cried and cried. Surrounded by decorations that my staff had prematurely put up to celebrate a victory that never happened, I curled up into a ball and just lay there, completely devastated. But then something amazing happened. At least, I thought it was amazing.

I woke up, and my world hasn’t ended. I was the same Reshma, with the same passion for women and girls, and the same deep desire to change the world. The only difference? I was a little braver.

Bravery is what let me break free. It led me to quit my job and run for office. It inspired me to start a non-profit to teach girls to code—without any experience in coding or non-profit management. It brought me joy.

Bravery is what I want to share with the world because the truth is, we can all use a little more of it in our lives.

Reshma Saujani

We’re always trying to be perfect. We log 10,000 steps a day; work out seven times a week. We read endless articles, blogs, and books on how to advance our careers, find work-life balance, and attract the ideal partner. We go after the hot job or role in our community that everyone tells us we’d be perfect for. We have two point five kids, buy the perfect house, and acquire all the right stuff. But there is so much power in failing, risk-taking, stepping out of your comfort zone. We have so much to gain by giving up perfection, and being brave instead. 

Our acts of bravery can be as small or as big as we want them to be. As small as sending an email with a typo, or as big as starting a company. Committing to running five miles a week, or going back to school to learn a new skill. It doesn’t matter how big or small it is because bravery is like a muscle, every time you flex it, it gets stronger.

I live and breathe the mantra of brave, not perfect. And it’s something that we teach our students at Girls Who Code. We launched in India earlier this year, and already I see our girls flexing their bravery muscles. Coding isn’t easy, but they keep at it. They’re willing to learn, to fail, to help one another.

With bravery, and computer science skills, these girls will change the world. They will lead our biggest companies. They will develop solutions to our most challenging problems. They will deliver on the promise of equality for all people.

They will do all of this and more. And with a little more bravery, and a little less perfection, the rest of us can too.


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