"When you're scared and you still do it anyway, that's being brave" so said Coraline Jones. During my defense I told my panel that my prayer for the past year was that I find the courage to always be brave. They thought I was just talking about my academic and health struggles. But for me, it was really about LIFE itself. The end of my academic life meant that I was finally going to face the one thing I avoided through the years-- taking charge of my life.
Since my defense last march, I've never felt the urge to use my title of "Phd." When people call me doc hazel, I find it so funny and sometimes even weird. I guess I just felt something was missing. I didn't feel I earned it yet. Academically, I know I've done my part. I passed all the exams and did all the papers. I did the important stuff. But I know that in the defense of "life" I havent earned that right.
So many things have happened over the course of the last four months. People who know me well would know that. There comes a point in life I guess when no matter how great your achievements are, when the most important part is missing, nothing really matters. I know I should have been happy. I did the almost impossible-- finishing two graduate degrees in 6 years, writing a dissertation in 2 months, and breaking records in the process. I should be happy. But honestly? I was not. And it was not about being unsatisfied. And it was not being selfish either. It was about searching for the golden pot at the end of the rainbow but realizing in the end that the treasure you've been looking for was just beside you all along. And you pray that you get to it before it fully disappears.
In the past two weeks I've learned what it meant to be brave. I've learned what it meant to care. I've learned the real definition of what the promise "I'll stick by your side no matter what happens" really meant. But most of all I've learned what matters most in my life is worth fighting for with every living breathe in my soul.
Cha once told me that the reason why I couldn't speak up in January was because I was afraid. The fear of losing the most important person in my life was driving me to shut up. But she also said that one day, that very same fear will be the fuel that would finally drive me to do what has been long overdue. She was right.
I finally found my courage to be brave. And maybe I finally earned the right to be called Dr. Hazel last tuesday night. With God as a witness, I finally defended my the dissertation of life. I finally found the cause to willingly march into hell for. And yes, it was worth it. And though I know life will still surprise me with more trials, at least now I know that I can endure. And I start my new day with the hope that things will slowly become okay.
I still believe in the inate goodness of man. Despite everything. I've always marched to the beat of my own drum. I've always been different. But two opinions matter to me--and they come from my two best friends. And nearly losing the most important aspect of my life pushed me to fight the battle of my life.
When you find that treasure, you realize that it's worth every tear, every pain, and every strength of your soul. Not even the devil himself can stop me from fighting for my heart. I marched into hell and would willingly do so again for that one cause.
I am finally happy.
(And to the one who nearly destroyed it, thank you pa din. Kung sino ka man, I wish you well.I wish you a life that is less sad because I feel really sad for you. Sorry na lang di ka magtatagumpay..)
I did not know I could be brave. Thank you for giving me that gift.