For the longest time, I’ve known the boundaries of my worldview to be severely limited, one that doesn’t take into consideration hope and its many possibilities. Shunned, bullied, and alienated for simply being different compared to my peers, I had learned earlier on that my life carried no meaning and, thus, no hope. I carried around this sense of worthlessness and hopelessness wherever I went, each step only adding to the burden laden upon my shoulders.

Fortunately, this wouldn’t be the direction my life would be going. I knew I wasn’t going to let it steer itself.

It only took a single act of courage for me to ignite my journey towards transformation and self-discovery. Imagine this scenario in my shoes: You’re in the audience, cheering for your friends as they ready themselves for the finale of the school’s annual public speaking competition. You listen to their exuberant speeches as an endless stream of wisdom flows into you. The time then comes for the judges to deliberate. In the meantime, the empty stage openly welcomes anyone willing to give impromptu speeches. In a split second, which at that moment feels like an eternity, you hesitantly raise your hand, expressing your intent to give that impromptu speech, and all of a sudden, you find yourself in front of the audience. Instead of buckling under pressure, you instead delivered a passionate speech that claimed several standing ovations from the crowd afterward.

This was me a few years ago. This was the event that single-handedly kickstarted my transformational journey; The event that allowed me the discovery of my inner voice; The event that led me to my passion for storytelling through public speaking and writing; The event that led me to hope and a home. All because I had raised my hand; All because of a single act of courage.

The worldview that so desperately limited my capacity to hope now had expanded itself to allow room for new emerging thought patterns, including ones that are of childlike wonder and appreciation for the small things around me.

Since then, I’ve dedicated my life to helping others achieve a more compassionate worldview and to aid them in laying the foundation for a home they can go to. I can happily say that now I stand among other people whose stories are the same as mine, who, because of an act of courage, allowed themselves to transform and become the person they’ve always wanted to be.

“Knowing you’ll always be welcomed, no matter how much has changed…That’s what having a home is all about”
– Oerba Dia Vanille, Final Fantasy XIII