When I saw Brian absolutely storming home in the poll to choose our next Boy Band Member of the Week, it seemed only fair to give him the same thought I gave his cousin last week. I thought I’d sit down, bang out a few ideas, run it through spell check and send the result on its merry way to the web.
But this was surprisingly difficult to write. Not because I struggled to think of anything Brian has taught me but because my mind kept wandering to his hilarious, adorable antics. The man is a bouncing, boundless ball of energy but even that has taught me something: Although Brian makes it look easy, I’ll never do a handstand without hurting myself.
When it comes to the serious stuff, I don’t think I’m alone in admiring Brian for his quietly principled approach to life. He’s a man of integrity, faith and honor and, whatever your own beliefs may be, you have to respect Brian’s unwavering conviction in his. Even as a teenager, I was impressed with the stand he took at this photo shoot for Rolling Stone about which he said:
I know the body is a work of art but I’d rather not open myself up to criticism. I understand we’re a group, and we normally stand together, but there are going to be cases where I just can’t disrespect myself and stoop to that level.
Although I personally had no problem with the naked ladies (I barely even noticed them, I was so preoccupied with the hottie sprawled across the bottom of the picture), the shoot didn’t sit well with Brian and I admired him for refusing to compromise on his values. I’ve admired him for it ever since so I knew I’d be writing about that.
What I didn’t expect to be writing about was my renewed appreciation for the simple fact that we have Brian today. We talk a lot lately about how lucky we are that Nick and AJ were able to find their way out of some incredibly dark places, we’re still buzzing to have Kevin back in the group and we’re still shocked that Howie also contemplated walking away from it all. But we forget that Brian – that irrepressible, energetic and seemingly indestructible kid from Kentucky – almost didn’t make it through childhood, let alone into the group. He’s been a battler since the day he was born, fighting for his life when an infection attacked his fragile heart as a boy and coming back from what must have been terrifying open heart surgery in the 1990s. And let’s not forget the time he casually contracted swine flu and just as casually kicked its butt – because, y’know, he’s Brian. More recently, we’ve seen and heard him fight for his career, putting a huge amount of time and energy into overcoming vocal problems that would have stopped a weaker man in his tracks long ago.
Whether it’s through his commitment to his beliefs, his incredible work ethic or the simple fact that he’s still here, still fighting, still making millions of people smile just by doing what he does and by being who he is, we can all learn a few things from Brian – and we’re so lucky to have that opportunity.
- Don’t be afraid to take a stand
People won’t always agree with you and in many cases you won’t be able to sway them. Be respectful of their views but expect the same in return. Be fiercely protective of your own truth – nurture it, guard it, do not give it up for anybody. Often others will stand with you, sharing your views, your passion and your commitment but there may also be times when you feel alone in your convictions. Don’t be scared to stand on your own, to tell the world “This is who I am, this is what I believe”. Take a stand, make yourself heard – you may be surprised who comes to stand alongside you.
- You are stronger than you know
There is a strength in you that nothing and nobody can break. You may not always feel it and you may sometimes struggle to find it but it will always be there. In times of fear, sadness and uncertainty, it will carry you through. It will give you the courage to leap, even when you’re unsure where you will land. It will give you the will to carry on, even when the mountain seems too high, the risk too great. Be brave, have faith in yourself – you are stronger than you know.
- Take chances
The life you end up living might be nothing like the one you had planned. That’s not always a bad thing so be open to unexpected opportunities. Take the road less traveled – you can’t know where it will lead you unless you’re willing to travel down it. So explore. Wander right off the map if you need to. Although stepping into the unknown may mean abandoning your plans and setting down the dreams you’ve always carried, it might also lead you to a life that is greater than you ever imagined.