Courage for others
I did a lot of outrageous things as a child. I still remember when my cousin and I attempted to choke my grandfather’s chicken because we were just simply craving for tinola. Luckily, my grandmother caught us before we totally killed it. At the age of 8, I sneaked out of our house just to catch a spider, an exploit that I bragged about in school the next day. I realized then that inside my small body was a brave heart beating.
However, things pretty much changed when I turned 16. Before the K-to-12 program, someone at that age was ready for college. It was expected that you had already figured out your degree program, your future career and, eventually, the rest of your life. There was so much pressure at that age, as if it could make or break a person. If you made the right decision at 16, you’d succeed. If you messed it up, you were doomed.
Just like everyone else, I did what was expected of me to do — study in a university. My only goal was to finish it to eventually start earning after. With that mindset, I didn’t pursue the things I used to enjoy in high school. I became passive with my passions and suppressed the fire inside that used to trigger them. I stopped writing. I stopped being a public speaker. I was hyperfocused on my academics that I stopped being brave. Just like that. No major drama involved.
Just recently, in my fifth year in college, opportunities to once again pursue my passions came knocking. It took me a long time to think whether I should give these offers a go. I felt unworthy; I had become so afraid to hold a pen and to stand before a crowd. In short, I was mortified about trying again. But with much encouragement from my family and friends, I finally embraced the opportunities, and I developed a different kind of bravery.
It’s now a bravery for others. As a member of our school publication, I am using this platform to shed light on issues affecting the underrepresented sectors in our community. I am telling the stories of prisoners, the plight of our elders and the struggles of our Filipino farmers. Currently, I’m spearheading our university’s official magazine, which will feature the lives and the struggles of these people.
As a public speaker, I also make sure to be a voice on issues that truly matter, in order to promote discussions and somehow encourage action among my fellow students. Last Aug. 15, after my regular HIV test, I started a campaign to promote Haven of Hope through social media. Haven of Hope offers free testing, treatment and consultation not just to people living with HIV (PLHIVs), but also to everyone. What struck me the most was the fact that everyone was willing to be involved, as long as someone could start to speak about it. Despite my passiveness in my early years in college, I can say my sense of bravery today has grown by leaps and bounds.
There is a particular bravery in our childhood. We believe we are capable of doing anything, just like our favorite superhero. We always feed our curiosity without the fear of being scolded by our parents. We heedlessly pursue what our hearts dictate. However, as we age, we lose that fire in us. We become so consumed by the pressures of the world that it becomes easier to choose the easy, convenient path — to live with our fears rather than rise above them. But trust me, it doesn’t end there. One day, that early bravery will soon be resurrected and, with our eyes and minds now more open, evolve into something else—courage for others, and courage to pursue things with a higher purpose.
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Vincent C. Verzola, 20, is a graduating accountancy student of the University of Saint Louis Tuguegarao.
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