As a child, I was very impressionable and gullible. I had that sadly typical childhood of being an outcast with no friends, and as a result grew up awkward and terrified of many things. Since I spent most of my time playing video games I naturally grew attached to the characters and the worlds I explored. As with many kids of the 90’s era, Ocarina of Time was a very impressionable Zelda game, and many would argue it was my true first since I had only played Zelda II up to this point.

Playing the game more and more, I connected with Link since I was projecting myself onto him. One thing that I spent time thinking about was how brave Link was. He would face all of these trials and tribulations even though he was just a child like myself. Sure, I knew I was never going to explore the insides of an ancient tree or a giant whale, but I thought more and more about his courage and strength. It was then that I decided that I strove to be more like Link with each passing day!

Time passed and life changed. Suddenly I was an adult who was still terrified of things that he shouldn’t be. I had lost all of that youthful vim and vigor. I had gained things and lost many others, as is the natural path of adulthood. I still loved video games and Zelda, but it wasn’t with the same kind of passion that I had as a child. Getting through each and every day was tough, and life was beating me down with terrible force. The internet had become my safe haven and I spent much of my time — if not my entire days just browsing around the internet or talking to online friends.

A certain group of people I was friends with frequently went to some conventions, and I was fortunate enough one year to be able to afford a trip to go with them and finally meet them in person. Taking this trip meant traveling to a place I’d never been, but I was so focused on going on my first ever solo vacation that I wasn’t even thinking about any of that. When I arrived, I met all of these wonderful people I called friends and did everything I could to enjoy myself in the fleeting time that we had to spend together.

The trip itself, however, was not as fruitful or pleasant as I had hoped. I was so overwhelmed being in a place I had never been with people I’d technically never really met, and the stress of it along with my inherent shyness and anxiety caused me to become sick within a day. I spent most of the next day in bed, and didn’t do much of anything. One of my friends rooming with me took notice and told me I should try and enjoy this vacation. I had spent a lot of money and I needed to try and get the most out of it. Of course, my depressed mind instantly tried to shut it out, but I soon realized that night that he was very right. I decided to give one final push. To try and overcome all of this and get something out of this trip. I messaged my friend who helped me out at the airport and decided I was going to spend the last day with someone and make some great memories and achieve all that I wanted within a single day.

The Kokiri’s Emerald has become a symbol of not only courage for me, but hope.

The very next morning we spent it in the convention area, looking at all of the merchandise available, and even played some games in the game area. I even had the courage to talk to some people I wanted to really meet who were YouTube stars. Or, at least, YouTube stars to me. I also decided I was going to get one of my friends a gift because I knew they were having a rough time too. And that’s when I found them; it was the spiritual stones in jewelry form. I was enamored with them, and I was originally going to pick up the Goron’s Ruby for myself, but I decided instead to get one for my friend instead.

As the day was winding down, I decided to go to a panel with my friend who had convinced me to give today a chance. I told him everything I did and about how I was thinking of getting one of those spiritual stones as a necklace. And it was then that he said something to me that I will never forget.

“I think you should get the Kokiri’s Emerald. It represents courage, and I think all the things you’ve done this past weekend show you have great courage. You traveled halfway across the United States to meet people you’ve only ever known online, and on top of that, you did that on your own. That takes a lot of courage, and it’s not easy. So I think you should get that one.” I was taken aback. This friend was not someone I expected to ever say anything like this to me, and it’s something I’ll carry with me for as long as I live.

I bought that necklace shortly after and it has accompanied me every single time I’ve ever been scared of doing anything. A reminder of the strength that I’m able to have through my courage and willing to move forward to accomplish things I want to in life. Just recently I went out of state on my own and learned more independence. Through that whole trip I carried this necklace with me and if I ever waver or doubt myself, I need only look at it to be reminded of what I’m capable of doing. The Kokiri’s Emerald has become a symbol of not only courage for me, but hope.

As I write this article and reflect on all of these things, I finally realized that in a sense, I had become like Link and had my own personal adventures. None so grand as the young hero to be sure, but my own personal adventures. It’s thanks in large part to Zelda that I am where I am now. I took a risk and traveled to unknown places. I applied for things I would never have otherwise, and it’s because of that courage that I even have the chance to write this very article you’re reading. The realization of what I’m capable of and what I can truly achieve was taught to me by The Legend of Zelda, and for that, I can never thank it enough.