People are much more than just one label.
The fighters and screamers and resilient-tough-as-old-boots change makers are so much more than a protest and social media rant. I am sick of people who are pretending that they have it all together. News flash! NOBODY has it together!
On the days when you feel like every other person on the planet is changing the world and inspiring millions with deep Instagram captions of a picture of a cup of coffee, that bravery comes in so many different shapes and, cringy as it sounds, we are all honestly just trying our damn best.
There is my best friend who will call out even the scariest teachers on their crap. She doesn’t care who you are, if you are going to behave like a child, she will treat you like one. I’ve seen her roll her eyes at stuffy politicians, straight to their face! She is a typical rebel, all big black boots, eyeliner and protest badges in her vintage denim jacket. Her middle finger is always beautifully decorated with rings and nail polish, maybe you can guess why.
But she is also the girl who gets hurt, who has to have a little cry in the bathrooms in school. And a face that normally is made up and highlighted to perfection, becomes pale and blotchy. She gets nervous before she has to do a big speech and her hands shake but you would never guess unless you knew her well because as soon as she steps on stage, she is nothing but absolutely convinced of her own power.
It is this ability to be both flames that burn her enemies but also warm her friends that inspires me. Her softness is what gives her strength. If she did not feel so deeply, if she did not feel pain or empathise with others, she wouldn’t be brave, she would just be angry. But she is one of the only people I have ever met that I can be totally, completely honest with because she can admit when she’s wrong and she will admit that she is often wrong. She will never make excuses for herself, she takes full responsibility when she hurts people.
And I think that is a rare type of bravery in itself.
To face the fact that sometimes, you are the reason why somebody is crying and you have the power to make it right. It can be easy to pick apart everybody else’s flaws and rant about them to strangers as politicians like to do. It is another thing completely to admit to somebody that you love that you often make mistakes. In this age of social media slating, image obsession and crisis after crisis that young people are expected to fight and fix, vulnerability is a hard thing to find. Because we are too busy trying to seem perfect and confident and have all the answers that we forget that we are all just children who wish to be loved.
And I’m not sure if you can truly be loved by someone who has never seen your flaws.
I know that I love my friend even more when she is in an ugly hoodie, drinking tea in my kitchen than when she is off changing the world. And I am more proud of her when she sticks out the hard days in school than when she makes elaborate speeches. We are not loved because we are accomplished, we are loved because we are human. We forget that connection and raw emotions are what really drive us all. We have forgotten to be human in our effort to save humanity. And I wish I was more like my best friend, I wish I was able to be so fluid like her. Able to switch from vulnerable to strong, the way you may turn the pages of a book. Naturally and simply a continuation of who she was, in a new light, with different words.