It was the beginning of second year and I had just dyed the little stripe in my bangs neon green. I was so excited about it, just because it was fresh and different and I just loved every little thing about it. It put a little pep in my step – as presenting your best self usually does. I went into the TV studio and this girl I’ve barely ever talked to comes down and sits next to me. Now, this isn’t verbatim but she said something like “Oh my god Heather the new colour looks amazing. I’ve never seen green hair before. You’re so brave.” I thought that statement was interesting because as a human being still trying to break free of being ruled by fear I never thought of myself as brave.
As a matter of fact, I thought she was brave. She was so outgoing and friendly no matter how people treated her in return. Sometimes I saw this sadness in her eyes, I don’t know if it was really there, or if anyone else noticed it but I was always amazed at how smiley and pleasant she always was. I really didn’t know how she was strong enough to be able to put on that front… I never had been. To me, dying my hair green wasn’t a big deal. People had been making fun of my appearance since I was in grade 5 and I learned a long time ago that I couldn’t let what other people thought of how I looked get through to my heart… or it would kill me. So I just wear what I want, put my hair how I want, I put as much or as little effort into my appearance as I feel like that day and give literally no shits about what anyone has to think about it. It isn’t particularly brave. it’s just something I’ve adapted to in order to survive the judgments of others.
As the semester wore on and I silently worked away in the corner I would listen to the conversations around me. I realized that my peers weren’t very fond of her. There was one shoot where she and I had both completed her work as most of our stuff was to be completed before the cameras started rolling. I was off to the side, silently observing and I felt a little disconnected from the group at large. I noticed she had disappeared and I found her on a couch that had been pushed off into a corner. I went and sat with her on that couch. We didn’t really say much but I kinda realized I wasn’t alone.
When I look back on this the lesson I see is that people are going to think what they want of you from the little information that they see. I don’t really know her story and we haven’t really talked since that semester wrapped but I find myself thinking of that moment often. She was always super nice to me. It really reinforced that appearances don’t matter thing for me and it made me realize that it doesn’t matter what people think because everyone has layers. We both thought the other was brave because they were able to do something we could not. Courage and bravery are just as relative as any other perception. This moment has inspired me to look at why I find think others are brave. I then turn that internally to identify where I need to work to overcome my own fears.