How does one become a hero? All of us grew up watching all the superheroes, from Mighty Mouse to Spider Woman. We always saw their strenghts and their kryptonites. Those shows always remind us that those heroes were also human (except for Biker Mice).
When I was a child, my biggest ambition was to be a Nobel Peace Prize winner. I remember the imaginary game with my cousin and sisters ( I think I was 6 years old) where we pretended to be in a beauty pageant. My sister then asked me what I would do if I was given a lot of money. I told her that I would use the money to help the poor (yes such a cliche but I was young and seious about it). I wanted to help save the world (I still want to up until now). The only problem, the change I dream of was just a dream. I never did anything to reach it. I partially blame living in a small city. It did not help in empowering my childhood dreams (centralization only helps big cities get more opportunities). I grew up thinking and feeling that I was a powerless nobody filled with frustrations of wanting to do more and that the only audience that I will ever get will be my schoolmates who pretty much had no choice.
It was not until I had my first heartbreak that I realised that I could do more and that I had a blind spot. I did not need to find a hero to save me, I needed to save myself, I was 22 years old then. At such a late age, I started to accept who I was. I accepted my physique and all my quirks. I never wore shorts and sleeveless tops before thinking that I looked ugly and fat. I always hid. I avoided opportunities thinking I was not smart enough or that I was incapable. I was nowhere near perfect but I knew I had more to offer to the world. More than complaining on social media, more than wishing that people did things differently, more than hoping others start caring for the poor and the environment.
I discovered my skill in public speaking when I accidentally won in a impromptu speaking competition in highschool ( I was just trying to escape boredom at a class, joining competitions gave me a valid excuse to miss it). When I knew that I could talk and that it could get people’s attention, I decided to push myself further. For two years, I would constantly put myself under the spotlight (not that I loved being the center of attention). Being comfortable in public was my biggest enemy (All my highschool and college friends and professors can attest). The awkward teenager in me started dying, I became more confident in public speaking. From a kid who could barely order food in Jollibee, I have found that my words have more impact on a bigger crowd and that I had the power to bring out confidence on others as well.
At 24, I decided to try my luck by moving to Manila. I was a stranger to a big city but I knew the city welcomed risk takers and dreamers. After meeting an influential guy who was never scared in innovating (he ended up being one of the country’s richest man), I broke free from my little safety box. I would go to Couchsurfing meet-ups and talk to people that I have never met before. I took different routes and found my way around the metropolis (I got robbed by a guy with a knife but it never stopped me). From being anonymous, I started making a name for myself, using my height and my Filipina features to get attention through beauty pageants, I was able to spread the word on worthy causes that I believed in. I worked diligently and professionally for people to make friends in different industry. Although the Manila journey ended up with a failure, I managed to bounce back into the journey once again.
I do not consider myself a hero to others (I am trying to be a hero to those without voices and power), I was and still a hero to myself. Real life heroes are no different from you and me, however they possess two traits that make them extraordinary, courage and commitment. It is not easy to take a stand and to stay your grounds. People will break you down and try to kill your spirit but they will not succeed unless you give them that power.
My journey is still far from over and I do not know how many failures are waiting for me ahead but I continue to walk farther into the unknown.
How about you? How far are you into the hero’s journey?