Courage is more than just wielding a sword in battle or confronting an opponent. The bravest people aren't always the biggest, most physically imposing ones. Sometimes courage is opening up a laptop and putting down some painful words. Sometimes the bravest people are the ones who are under five-feet but who speak truth even when it hurts.
Eva Recinos' Twitter profile tells us she's a writer who is less than five feet tall. It doesn't tell us everything we need to know about her, though.
It doesn't tell us that she grew up in South Los Angeles, where she had to get used to "the sound of police sirens and choppers," or that she believes growing up in a tough neighborhood helped make her strong.
It doesn't tell us that she grew up thinking she would write fiction and poems, but discovered that she's always loved telling real people's stories and is discovering that maybe that's her passion.
It doesn't tell us that she tries to use her personal history in her writing — specifically, writing about women, people of color and mental illness. "I think people of color deserve more visibility within media," she said. "I've also been writing about mental health more lately and exploring how I can use it to help others (at least so they know they're not alone)."
It doesn't tell us that her goal is lofty — not to write to increase her own name recognition, but to write to make a difference in the world. "What I really want to do is make sure the readers can take away something that will be personally enriching, whether I'm telling my own story or someone else's," Eva said.
You can get a lot about someone from their Twitter profile, but you can't truly understand how courageous they may be until you talk to them, read their work, ask their friends and family members what makes them special.
Eva's sister, Nydia Recinos-Garcia, 16 years older than her little sister, says that what makes Eva stand out is not just her honesty, but her bravery.
"She's written about some personal things that I would never think to share with the world," Nydia said. "Eva is a strong, opinionated, wonderful young woman. I am proud to call her my sister."
Eva writes for LA Weekly regularly and has also had pieces published by Refinery29 and Cosmopolitan. She combines reporting with personal writing, and her style is moving, honest and powerful.
Despite how supportive he was, depression was always a third wheel in our relationship. It showed up to our dates unannounced. It wedged itself between us in restaurant booths, whispering anxious thoughts into my ear, encouraging me to overanalyze every single thing that happened during an otherwise fun night. It lingered at each anniversary celebration, stopping by to remind me not to get too happy.
— Excerpt from Depression Has Always Been the Third-Wheel in My Relationship, on Refinery29.
Eva described that piece above as the hardest she's written — not because the technical aspect of writing was hard, but because she had to really delve deep and get personal, more personal and more emotional than she was really used to.
"But honestly it was hugely rewarding because people told me I put into words a lot of the same things they felt," she added. "That was totally unexpected; people thanked me and I can't even put into words how great (and humbling) that was."
Two things Eva hopes to achieve in the future are writing a book (or two or three or four..."as many books as possible!") and traveling for work. "I would love to meet underrepresented makers and creators around the world," she said.
Eva has been writing since she was a child, and one of her favorite memories is having a poem published in a school anthology. In it, she rhymed the word "admire" with everything she could think of — even a flat tire.
"My favorite thing about writing is that feeling when the words come so quickly your fingers have to keep up on the keyboard," Eva said. "I know a blank page can be intimidating a lot of the time but to me it's one of the most beautiful things!"
During a college internship with LA Weekly, Eva had her first print piece published.
"I would definitely consider that printed article in LA Weekly my greatest accomplishment so far," she said. She had to attend an art show, interview people, and go through several rounds of editing. Finally, she saw her byline and work in the alternative weekly. "Seeing it in print was so satisfying and amazing."
I called Eva brave earlier; it's not just because she grew up in a hard neighborhood and writes about personal subjects that many are scared to talk about. It's because her life has dealt her a lot of ugly things, and she's worked hard to come out and keep trying, keep breathing, keep writing.
When she was 12, Eva lost her father. She said that loss affected the rest of her life.
"It convinced me that life was unfair and cruel," she said. "In many ways it can be but I'm still working on accepting the good parts of it, too."
That's bravery: acknowledging that the lens through which you see life might not be clear and trying to change it, instead of just accepting it.
When asked where her sister's career would take her, Nydia responded with enthusiasm and belief in Eva's future: "Wherever she wants to go!" she said. "She wants to write a book and I have no doubt she will. She wants to travel the world and I'm sure it's only a matter of time."