Good morning. Today, I would like to speak to you all about courage. Let’s start off with defining the word – what does it actually mean to be courageous? According to Google, it is the ability to do something that frightens you. But this one, simple sentence doesn’t tell us much about the acquisition of courage. The definition is short-sighted in that it does not record one’s personal hardships that need to be overcome in order to gain this courage. So allow me to delve into this for you.
When you all think of the word courage, what images do you conjure in your minds? Perhaps you picture David defeating Goliath armed with only his quick wit, or maybe somebody brave enough to wear a Tottenham Hotspur jersey whilst walking around North London. Whatever personal meaning you bring to the word courage, it is such a beautiful thing that each and every one of us has displayed courage in some way or another – and I’d like to tell you about one of mine today.
It was a warm evening in Egypt, 2022. My family and I were on holiday, and the events company of the resort we were staying at had organised a karaoke night. They needed somebody to close the event with a final song, and the Oasis classic Wonderwall was the song of choice. In my head, I was thinking: “Wow, it would be amazing for me to go up there on that platform and blast out England’s unofficial national anthem”, but knowing how horrendous my singing is, I would never have dreamed of actually doing it.
But then, to my luck (or misfortune, depending on how you look at it), the organiser handed the mike to me. I hadn’t been that nervous since the Euros final, but I walked up to the stage, waited for the music and sang my heart out.
This is a real story, so I’m not going to make anything up. My singing was dreadful! As my very supportive sister told me afterwards, I sounded “worse than nails on a chalkboard”, but it didn’t matter to me. I had still done something which frightened me – standing in front of close to 100 people and having to sing in front of them was an incredibly daunting prospect for me, but I pushed myself to do it.
And that’s the lesson that I would like to leave on all of you today. Courage is not just doing something that frightens you. Courage is doing something which you know could fail or which is not your forte. It’s pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone regardless of whether you want to or not. Courage allows us as people to break down those invisible barriers that we put up against ourselves.
As Mr Dunscombe has told my year group numerous times: “You have to be in it to win it.” So the next time you’re faced with any kind of adversity, my advice is – embrace it. Run at it wholeheartedly and without fear. The opportunity to be courageous presents itself everywhere – we just need to be fearless enough to take it. Sign up for that school play that you were thinking about. Don’t be afraid to say No if you feel that something goes against your morals. Have the humility to hold your hands up when you make a mistake. You don’t need to be a gladiator in an arena to be courageous.
Just remember this: you can never succeed if you don’t have the courage to try.