I’ve spent two years being called Brave. Lovingly, with sweet smiles and light in their eyes as they wrap one of my curls around their fingers. Laughing after I’ve said what we’ve all been thinking. Laughing as I shrug a shoulder and smirk at the shock on our bosses’ faces.
"Oh, Brave, I like you" is one of the first full sentences one of the women on the sales floor said to me. She is a woman who I admire and love and respect. A woman who I have gone to feeling not-so-Brave. A woman who I have looked to for advice or just to vent.
"You’re so beautiful, you look like Brave."
"You remind me of Brave."
"Mommy, she looks like Merida."
"Has anyone ever told you that you look like the princess in Brave?"
"I’m going to call you princess," is one of the first things my team lead said to me that wasn’t outright nasty. "Why?" "Because you’re so pretty and you walk around like you own the place and you’re a brat, but I kinda like you." See? Not outright. And this is a woman who I have gone on a damn journey with. From a black, seeping hatred to “what’ll happen if I just stop acting like I hate her” to genuine love. To her telling me that I’ve changed her as a leader and that she’s grateful. To her telling me that she’s proud of me and that she hopes for so much for me. To her saying “I used to hate you, but now I really love you, princess.” To her asking me if I was ever going to tell her to her face that I’d put in my two weeks notice. “I haven’t seen you since.” “Why are you leaving me?” “I need to move on and do better for myself.” She stopped and turned and she leveled me with a face of open sincerity and she said: “I’m so proud of you, I really am. And I’m going to miss you more than you know.”
"Who am I going to sing to now, Red Wonder?"
"I can’t believe you’re leaving me."
"I love you so much, I hate you for going."
"Hey, Brave, I hear you’re leaving me!"
And all those soft-eyed, hurtful smiles that proceed the “I’m proud of you, Brave”s….
I hadn’t expected to love them so much, I hadn’t expected to be so changed, challenged, supported and encouraged by them.
At the first meeting, surrounded by people who I didn’t know I would come to love as much as I do now, one of them said, “I’m bad at remembering names, but if I call you Brave, will you answer?”
And I said sure. Even though I wasn’t feeling Brave at all.
"Merida, when’s your last day? I want to make sure I see you."
And I answer them with a sad smile and a guilty “monday” and this time I feel the Bravest I’ve ever felt. And they’ve helped.