Bright and smiley. We are all settled in at my kitchen table with toast, crispy bacon, and yogurt, just about to start the interview when I let her know, “It may be hard to answer questions while you’re chewing, so don’t worry about it! Just go ahead, or take your time. Either way!”
She laughs and nods. I’m starting to feel like her confidence will be the least of our worries. Her smile is kind and silly, she’s not hiding anything, and she seems eager to start. From the moment she walked in the door she looked giddy. Smiling again, she raises her eyebrows expectantly and gives me an eager look.
Emy: “What is your full name?”
Braelyn: “Braelyn Dawn Smith.”
Emy: “Tell us about you.”
Braelyn: “Well, hmm. I have a family of six, I’ve lived in Winchester, VA since I was three years old, I have two sisters and one brother.”
Emy: “Do you like living in a big family?”
Braelyn: “Yeah, I do. I feel like it’s more fun when you do things all together. Plus, in my family we are all just best friends.”
Emy: “Who are the most important people in your life?”
Braelyn: “Well, obviously my family. Probably my best friend, Madison. I really like my family because they look out for me and care about me and always want to know what’s going on. And I really like Madison because she’s just always there. She cares about everybody a lot.”
Emy: “What are your favorite things to do, favorite places to be, favorite things?”
Braelyn: “One of my most favorite things to do would be swimming. I was on a swim team for four years. Another would probably be hanging out with people because I really, really enjoy being with people.”
I believe it. She’s enjoyable! Her relaxed, welcoming mood is so calming. Braelyn evokes the friendliness of a puppy, with the confidence of a queen. That saying comes to mind: “he who makes himself friendly will have friends."
Braelyn: “And my favorite places…I really like the downtown mall. That’s my actual favorite place! I just love old-timey stuff. It’s just so simple and nice.”
Braelyn: “I guess one of my other favorite places is the beach. I just love being by the water.”
Emy: “What beach do you normally go to?”
Braelyn: “We have a house down in Myrtle Beach, so we go there a couple times a year.”
Emy: “Why do you love it?”
Braelyn: “I feel like everyone is just more relaxed there. The atmosphere is so relaxing and calm.”
Emy: “You look like a beach girl, so that’s not surprising!”
Braelyn’s sun-kissed skin and light, curly blonde hair may be the giveaways, but she also laughs and smiles with a beachy care-free joy. She could be one of those billboard ads you see in the dead of January that convinces you to book a mid-winter trip to Jamaica. Her smile is just that convincing.
Emy: “What grade are you in?”
Braelyn: “8th grade.”
Emy: “How do you feel about going into high school?”
Braelyn: “I’m actually excited! I’m excited about gong into it and really getting my grades up.”
Emy: “Earlier you said you really love people. Do you think that’s from having a big family?”
Braelyn: “Well, my sister and I are ten years apart and most of my childhood she always had her friends over, and I just really liked being around older people. So, I just grew to enjoy being around people instead of being by myself.”
Emy: “Are you the youngest?”
Braelyn: “Yes I am.”
Emy: “You’re very confident.”
She giggles. I’m sure she’s heard it before.
Braelyn: “I don’t like being shy!”
Emy: “That will help a lot in high school.”
Braelyn: “Yeah, that’s what everyone tells me!”
Emy: “What are some of the highlights of your day?”
Braelyn: “I actually really enjoy going to school. I just love all my teachers, everyone there, it’s so much fun. I guess after school one of my biggest highlights would be coming home and talking to my sisters. Jordan is a really funny person and she’s hilarious to talk to. Rachell is really caring and likes to listen to people, so if I have a problem, or just need someone to listen she’s always there. We usually talk at night.”
Emy: “That’s awesome to have such caring older sisters. I came from a family of five brothers, so I have no idea what that’s like.”
Braelyn: “Oh, wow!”
She laughs. Just imagine laughter in her every answer. It really is!
Emy: “What is a normal day in the life of Braelyn?”
Braelyn: “Well, school then coming home and reading, or going outside I guess, doing my homework, eating dinner, talk to my brother, watch a tv show, talk to my sisters, then go to bed.”
Emy: “Do you love the outdoors?”
Braelyn: “I do. I really, really love the outside. I like the sounds of birds, frogs, crickets. It’s amazing and peaceful. The air smells so much better! I like the atmosphere. It’s calming, but I also feel really energized!”
Emy: “Do you live in a beautiful area?”
Braelyn: “Yes! We live on top of a hill and we have a lake, so it’s really, really nice.”
We take a short break to munch on breakfast and chat a little between questions.
Braelyn: “Mostly when I’m outside I like to read, or take a walk.”
Emy: “Do you love reading in general?”
Braelyn: “Yes! I’m reading the Harry Potter series, so it’s taking a long time!”
Emy: “What are some of your favorite things?”
Braelyn: “Umm, food! I really love singing. That’s my absolute favorite thing to do. I love reading and spending time with people. I love, absolutely love animals. They are so adorable! I love cooking and I love watching cooking shows. Cooking was something me and Jordan used to always do together and we started watching this tv show called Top Chef. We would get all the seasons, then go downstairs and watch them, then come upstairs and cook! It was just this really fun thing we used to do. I love the taste of food. I just think it’s amazing!”
Emy: “Why do you love singing?"
Braelyn: “I think it’s amazing how the human voice can sound so beautiful. It’s just fascinating. I grew up with a lot of music and singing.”
Emy: “Who are some of your favorite singers?”
Braelyn: “Jasmine Thompson and Adele.”
Emy: “Do you have a lot of chances to sing? “
Braelyn: “Mostly around the house, but I sang a lot in the play last night at my school. Sometimes my school goes to nursing homes to sing. I get very nervous, but it turns out okay!”
Emy: “What are your life goals?”
Braelyn: “I really want to be on Broadway, that’s what I want to do. I guess, so far, I just really want to get good grades until I get out of college.”
Emy: “What are some of your other favorite things?”
Braelyn: “My favorite food is steak, my favorite dessert is crème brulee. My favorite color is baby blue. My favorite style for clothes is vintage. My favorite movie is probably Tangled! I really like the girl and how she’s just like, ‘I want this and I’m gonna get it!’ My favorite tv show is Raising Hope, it’s really funny! I like how it shows the family, and even though they are mean to each other they still love each other.”
Emy: “What is your dream vacation?”
Braelyn: “Oh wow! It’s probably going to Africa. I would just love to go there. I just think the culture down there would be so fascinating, the people and the way they are would be interesting to watch.”
Emy: “What should we know about you?”
Braelyn: “Well, everyone knows that I’m usually always happy! Some people know that I am sensitive about certain things. I’m super sensitive about books, like if someone doesn’t like a book I really love I’m kind of insulted.”
She laughs, almost making fun of herself.
Braelyn: “I’m also super sensitive about my hair. Through middle school a lot of girls liked to have their hair straight, so that was something I had to deal with. I’m always wondering how it looks!”
We share a high-five in total understanding. Curly heads unite!
Braelyn: “Well, hmm, I’m allergic to cats! And I went on a missionary trip to Guatemala and I would like to go back. I love talking to people. I love movies, I really love movies.”
Emy: “What are a few words that describe you?”
Braelyn: “I’m not quite sure… people say I’m intimidating!”
Emy: “What are words you would use to describe you?”
Braelyn: “Happy, emotional. I get mad when people don’t show what they’re really feeling, or lie. I try to be super honest about how I am feeling.”
Emy: “Why did you choose this styling for your photo shoot?”
Braelyn: “I guess because I’ve always wanted to do something like that and I remember my sister doing something like it with my Aunt Taffy’s pink prom dress and I just thought it was so beautiful. I wanted to show that I love nature and love to connect with it.”
Emy: “How would you like to hear yourself described by others?”
Braelyn: “I don’t really know! I just let people think what they want.”
Emy: “I could have guessed that.”
She laughs again.
Emy: "What are your dreams and ambitions?”
Braelyn: “One of my ambitions is to graduate high school early and go to Rivendell. My dream is to be a professional actress. I want to get married young and have a family. I’m thirteen, but I’ll be fourteen tomorrow.”
Emy: “Are there any other loves of yours we forgot to tap?”
Braelyn: “I love coffee shops! I love candles. Hmm, I love ribbon. I love books. I love clocks, probably because they help me throughout the day, they tell me how much of school is left! I really like the atmosphere in coffee shops and I really like studying there. It always makes me feel smarter.”
We are finished and she giggles.
One thing is for sure, if this is her confidence level at fourteen she just may be everything she dreams. Her cheery, silly personality is enticing and welcoming. Natural charm from a nature-loving girl. I’ve loved spending this time with her and hearing her heart, full of big dreams and no apologies.
Introducing the un-apologetic, nature-loving warrior princess, Braelyn.