When you’re little, you think most heroes need capes and have special superpowers that give them abilities to save the world and whatnot or are people who have left significant marks in history.
At some point, though, you realize that heroes are actually often everyday people who don’t necessarily achieve monumental feats.
I’ve worked at my new job for a little more than two months now, and I truly love it. The work is incredibly interesting and challenges me in a good way, and my coworkers have already become like family to me, whether they like it or not.
I also really love the building where we work, particularly this sculpture garden right outside. I’m not really interested in artsy stuff, and there aren’t really many sculptures (they’re just rocks and triangle things), and it’s not an actual garden (it’s mainly concrete with a little man-made stream thing and some cacti), but it’s a cool area. I think it’s kind of famous, too, because there are often professional photo shoots (I saw some models there last week) and music videos going on below us as we work, and it seems to be a popular tourist attraction. I sometimes use my lunch breaks to sit on the cozy chairs and read because it’s a busy but peaceful area.
And it’s apparently also a great place to work on your tan.
I first saw Reesa (or maybe it’s Risa) a few weeks ago, and I immediately respected her. She was wearing a tank top and some black denim shorts—not exactly the attire of everyone else who works in the surrounding buildings—and she looked like she knew exactly what she was doing as she strode toward the cozy chairs from our neighboring building with big headphones on and a don’t-mess-with-me attitude written on her face.
I watched in fascination as she pulled one of the chairs out from under one of the umbrella-shaded areas directly into the middle of the sunshine. She sat down and stretched out, kicked off her shoes, closed her eyes, and blocked out everything and everyone around her. She was tanning in the middle of the day at work, and she didn’t give a rat’s a$* about what anyone thought about her.
I loved her.
I continued to see her do the same thing on a daily basis, sometimes even tanning in her dress (hiking it up a bit, of course), moving her tank sleeves completely off her shoulders, or eating peanut butter straight from the jar. She was living her best life, and other people’s opinion’s of her (and, trust me, there are plenty—people in both buildings watch her, seem shocked, and talk about her later) mean absolutely nothing.
One day last week, I decided that I needed to talk to her. I wanted her to know how much I admire her. I consider myself someone who does what she wants and doesn’t place much value on what people think of her, but this was an entirely new level—and I’m inspired.
I walked downstairs with my coworker who was going to get a soda from the cafe next door, and I veered off to go talk to this woman who seemed like she wanted to talk to zero people. She had her eyes closed and headphones on, was in her standard tank/shorts ensemble, and was clearly in “do not disturb” mode.
So, naturally, I tapped her on the arm.
I introduced myself and essentially told her that she is my hero, and we had a really nice conversation. I learned a lot about my new friend, and she had been having a bad day and was glad to have someone say something positive to her. I also learned that she never used to take lunch breaks—like, ever—and so her husband told her that she should spend some time out in the sun every day that she could during the summer, and she was taking him up on that.
We really don’t know anything about one another until we actually make efforts to get to know each other. I left that conversation feeling uplifted. Reesa gets it. We don’t have to try to impress other people, and sometimes we simply need to do what’s best for us, even if that means being judged by others. Honestly, who really cares what they think?
Years ago, Colbie Caillat came out with “Try” a song that is raw and honest and reminds us that we don’t have to see ourselves how we think others see us. It’s not about other people liking us—it’s about us liking ourselves for who we are. I remember playing this for some of my high school girls when I was a teacher, and I wish every human in the world would listen to this song and let the lyrics resound in their hearts. (P.S. I was able to meet Colbie on Saturday night when I was out with some friends, and she is just as beautiful in person and even more so on the inside.)
I hope that Reesa continues to get her sunshine every day, and I hope that she continues to care zero amount about what people think of her. I also hope that more people will live life like she does—boldly and with complete confidence in who she is and what she’s doing.
We should really try less to impress others and try more to love them.