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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

A Thank You To The Heroes

Harry Potter. Katniss Everdeen. Ender. Malala Yousafzai. Heroes are woven into our diurnal life. As a child, I absorbed the stories of heroes from the chatter of news and books. I aspired to be a champion of women’s education. An advocate for gender equality. A warrior against injustice. A revolutionary terminating ongoing global human rights violations. Because, at that time, that’s what I believed a hero to be.
I was a little wrong. Yes, those who embody the remarkable streaks of humanity are heroes, but what makes a hero, in reality, is more simple. Being a hero is nothing more than being brave. So, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the heroes in my life. The ones who stuck with me through thick and thin. The ones that have empowered me to become, possibly, a hero to someone else. The ones that made me realize that, if I need a hero, I already had one inside me.
October 5, 2015. A normal day, really. The clouds grazed overhead, signaling no change in the dragging weather. The unpleasant stench of sweat clung to the hallways of the school. The repetitive motion in classes droned on. Voices carried gossip, and collective thoughts considered what the lunch menu held. An ordinary day, in an ordinary school, in an ordinary town. Or so I’d thought. I’d been sitting in the unforgiving confines of a pale hospital room, where the results of my MRI were to be announced. As I sat there, expecting nothing out of the ordinary, my doctor revealed the truth of the occurrence in my brain: “I’m afraid you have a brain tumor.” My world collapsed. The image was ruthless in its revelation. The image of a tumor lying unassumingly on my brain.
It was in that moment that my life began to escape wildly out of my grasp. I felt like I’d never be a flower. Just a petal. A stem. All those carefully laid plans and goals shattered, the cracks promising to mend themselves only with time. But time was what I feared I lacked. And that fear brought a myriad thoughts. Worthlessness, hopelessness, depression.
It took nothing short of a miracle to pull me out of that abyss. This miracle, the owner of a shocking smile, emerged in the form of my first true hero, who taught me that, perhaps, I too had a bit of a hero inside me. This hero was none other than my little brother. A person who could bring chaos into a room, yet be wise beyond his years. A person with the mind of a philosopher, but the disposition of a troublemaker. A little brother whose smile shocked me into believing that, despite everything I was going through, I, too, could plaster on a smile and be brave. Here was a child faced with the very real possibility of losing his sister to cancer, and yet he still attempted to make her laugh, always trying to shape her frowns into smiles. So, thank you, my little brother who embodies the phrase “a cinnamon roll too good for this world.” My little brother whose cheerfulness  lights up any room. My little brother who taught me that the most trying of times can be faced with a smile. This little rebellion in the face of hardship is enough to make a hero.
My brother taught me the heroism of smiling in the face of tribulations, but my other hero taught me the power of words, how they can be used as a weapon of heroism. There are 171,476 words in current use in the English language, but in those months, I hardly used any. Not until forced to do so would my mouth begin to utter words. *Enter my sister.* Another person faced with the very real possibility of losing her sibling. A person who rivals me for sheer stubbornness. A person whose intelligence is to be admired, and envied. A sister who taught me that shutting myself out made me a coward. It made me a sorry creature who failed to realize that to speak about her condition might be the best thing for her. She taught me that my words could be powerful. Words helped me find the determination I needed to recognize that I had a brain tumor, and that this would not deter me. How dare it rip away my confidence and self-worth? Sister, you made me realize that there was a heroic power in saying the words, “My tumor will not define me.”
And say them I did. I decided I wouldn’t be the girl with cancer. Yes, I would speak about it, because it is not a shameful thing. Yes, I would smile despite it, because it is nothing more than another obstacle in life. I’ve faced obstacles before. I would face this too. I would be my own hero. Because, ultimately, it is I who decides how a situation affects me.
I can flash a smile in the most trying of times. I can utilize my words to mold an outcome. I am given strength by the level-headed stones of thoughts in my mind. And this is all the bravery and strength I need to be a hero. I needed a hero, so I became one myself.
So today, I speak to you not as a survivor, but as an individual who found the hero in herself. And I implore you, find your own inner hero. The one who will slay your dragons and fight your battles. Because, I promise you, your hero exists. Perhaps you’ve buried them under insecurities, or shrouded them in self-doubt. Perhaps that hero has been trampled upon by broken oaths or empty promises, but all it takes for that ravaged piece of you to emerge victorious is your acknowledgment it exists. Your declaration that, “Yes! I do have a hero inside me.” Once you find it, I promise you’ll realize that you are all the heroism you need.