I am Brave
Rylee McElheny, Division 2, 11th grade #ws17e-s1d2

When I was four years old with dimples and eyes like the sunny sky, I wasn’t like everyone else. My earliest memory entails my mother telling me that I “just had this one quality that couldn’t be named.” I remember when my parents told me that my name meant “just and valiant” and I couldn’t help thinking, that’s it. That’s who I am. I know it sounds a touch narcissistic to say, but I have a strong sense of right and wrong. I always have. I’ve never done drugs or drank alcohol. I don’t cheat on tests. But the most just thing I have ever done was stand up for someone.

I used to wonder if I was a fight or flight kind of person. When I was eleven years old I learned. It was a hot day and we were at my grandparents’ pool. I could barely doggie-paddle and did not swim. My four-year old baby sister toddled along the sides of the pool and when my parents went to ask my grandma a question across the yard, she fell headfirst into the eight foot deep section. Without a word, I jumped into the center of the pool and grappled for my sister. It was a little to late that I remembered I couldn’t swim. We struggled to stay get to the surface, but eventually I grappled to the side. We made it and I realized that I was a fighter. I learned about the importance of valiance and that sometimes we must be selfless to be brave.

A few days ago in my art class, a boy sat at his desk and made jokes about women and obese people. He continued on and I got tired of hearing him disrespect humans like that. So I looked him in the eye and said firmly, but not rudely for him to please stop talking about people like that. He looked at me and began to argue that everyone had to turn a joke into something bad, that people are to sensitive and lighten up. I looked him in the eyes and told him, “The second you disrespect another person’s existence is the second I will tell you to stop joking about it because people kill themselves and kill others over these notions about equality and body image. Do not mess with me on this.” He glared at me and then said something along the lines of “I wish you were a boy right now so I could punch you.” I then did one of the bravest things I have ever done.

I muttered, “Then go ahead and do it.” I got louder with more passion in my voice, “Because if the only reason you are not hitting me is because I have an extra X chromosome, then you need to sort out your priorities.” I stood firm and he walked away. A girl with soft brown eyes and a violet's personality related to me later that he had been making uncomfortable suggestions to her and that I made them stop. I had to stand up that day.

My whole life I’ve been like this. I stand up and tell people to knock it off or pick on someone their own size. I go to a school and stand in hallways of people. People with the same haircuts, same thoughts, and same actions and it gets to be boring. I see nothing and everything all at once and I want someone to stand up and rise above everything. Someone to champion everyone and raise his or her voice for me. Someone to protect my friends and to tell people to be good. But sometimes life let’s you down and you realize a) your dream will never be or b) you need to make your dream a reality. I will make my dream a reality. I will rise up and be my own voice. I am just. I am valiant. And nothing, nothing, will tell me I’m not.
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