Aim Higher

This blog post was inspired by the 2016 movie Hidden Figures.

Katherine Johnson: I will have you know, I was the first negro female student at West Virginia university graduate school. On any given day, I analyze the binomial levels air displacement, friction and velocity. And compute over ten thousand calculations by cosine, square root and lately analytic geometry. By hand. There are twenty, bright, highly capable negro women in the west computing group, and we're proud to be doing our part for the country. So yes, they let women do some things at NASA, Mr. Johnson. And it's not because we wear skirts. It's because we wear glasses. Have a good day.

So, first off, if you haven't seen this amazing movie about these incredible, inspiring three women, you're missing out. Hidden Figures was thought-provoking, heartwarming, empowering and gave me so much to think about. It not only touched on topics like racism, discrimination, equality and motherhood, but also chasing one's dreams and aiming higher--even as far as the moon.

I was so shocked at how I'd never heard about these women before, but while the unfairness of their entire situation made my brain boil, I got so inspired by their stories and the message: to aim higher.

Aim higher.

As children, our imaginations run wild and free, giving us aspirations and dreams higher than the skies. We don't doubt ourselves when we're little. As a kid, I used to say I wanted to be a mermaid, a princess, a warrior, a wizard, a pirate, an artist. Adults laughed sweetly and smiled at these dreams. If I'd say the same things as a grown-up, I'd be labeled insane.

So maybe I don't want to be a princess anymore. But I still have big dreams--big enough to make some people give me either a frown or a laugh when I talk about them. Because I'm naive like a child.

Hidden Figures is based on the book by the same name written by Margot Lee Shetterly, which I haven't read, but I LOVE this quote:

“Their dark skin, their gender, their economic status--none of those were acceptable excuses for not giving the fullest rein to their imaginations and ambitions.”

We live in a world of restrictions and unfairness. But our mindsets could change it into a world of possibility and equality. It all happens in our heads. To think like these three women is to have courage and hope. They were not satisfied with how they were treated, how they were underestimated and run over. Gracefully, they respected the system, but worked their way around it.

The world is more fair than it was back then (though we should definitely not underestimate the problems which still exist and cause suffering for so many people), but there are different things holding us back now.

Time. Money. Family. Toxic relationships. Work. Social standards.

We are protected, and restricted, by a society which has a tendency to favor those who work themselves to depression, lose their dreams and forget their reasons to live. We are robots, walking with our devices in our hands, worrying about more than our brains can handle, sleeping less, laughing less, loving less. We are unhappy. Suicide rates are rising. We are afraid of terrorism. Of poverty. Hunger. War.

Is that how far we've come? Or rather, how far backwards we've gone--from a world of insecurity... to a world of insecurity?

Katherine, Mary and Dorothy aimed for the moon. What are we aiming for? 

As a society, we should be aiming for security, equality, peace. Malala Yousafzai fights for education, because education is what changes the world. She is an incredible person, who I need to meet at least once in my life. Malala has said: "Let us pick up our books and pencils. They are our most powerful weapon." I'm a writer. If I would've never been taught to read and write, my life would be full of emptiness and I'd be a lost girl without passion or dreams. 

I believe in the power of stories. Hidden Figures tells a story that I needed to hear, and it's one of the most important and inspiring films I've seen in a very long time. Shouldn't we all live lives that are worth making movies about and tell stories worth telling--stories capable of changing the world?

Aim higher in everything you do.

I want to do something that has meaning. I want to have an impact. From looking at the state of our current world, there's a lot that needs to be changed. 

One scene I'll never forget is when Mary Jackson is at court, convincing the judge to allow her to study night courses at an all white high school, so that she can become an engineer for NASA. Mary had the kind of spirit and determination I want to have, and that I want others around me to have as well.

We're not alone.

We're together so that we can inspire and lift each other up. Educate each other. Care for each other. Love each other. Laugh with each other.

To aim higher is to do something we've never done before. It's scary, but the scariest things are the most impactful--the most important. We cannot underestimate the power we all have. We cannot keep each other from doing things, from growing stronger and following our dreams. We should all aim higher, by lifting each other up.

We all need to strive to be more like Dorothy Vaughan. Like Katherine Johnson. Like Mary Jackson. To be the first. To change things. If not to get to the moon, then at least to make Earth a better place.

This blog post was the most difficult one I've ever written. Because this topic is so important, I had to rewrite, restructure and rework it for three months before I finally fought my perfectionism and clicked publish. Your words matter more than you know, and you need to put them out there even if you don't feel like you're capable of it. You are. You matter.

Please share this and keep writing the words that shout to be written--the thoughts that make your heart beat and keep you up at night.

Em. :)

Stuff Writers Say #2

If you're a creative person, you most likely think up some strange things. And sometimes you say them out loud, and people look at you weird. But there's nothing wrong with being weird! So, to embrace my own weirdness and help you embrace yours, I am sharing the weird things I've written in my journal or in my instagram (@StoryworldofEm) captions. Make the world a better place, one word at a time. Enjoy!

Jan 15th 2016
"I'm in class and I should focus but I can't stop thinking about my book. I have magic in my fingertips, but I can't use it and it's driving me insane. My story's waiting for me to bring it to life! All I want is to write! No, first burn my school, and then write."
I'm glad I didn't burn my school, because I went to the best high school in the universe :D But sometimes the inspiration just comes out of nowhere and you can't focus on anything else before getting the words out on paper.

Jan 15th 2016
"Just got a new book idea but I can't write it because I need to finish my WIP first. #thestruggle"
The fountain of fresh, beautiful, shiny story ideas will never stop flowing and giving life to the plot bunnies. They're everywhere. There's nowhere you can run. The plot bunnies will find you no matter where you hide. But you can always harvest them and stack them in cages for later!

Jan 11th 2016
*Insert long description of novel-related things I did all day* "-and then suddenly my laptop lagged and died. Now everything is gone."

Jan 13th 2016
"Stories are the color of my life!"

Jan 18th 2016
"I need HELP!"

Dec 30th 2015
"Writers never forget the pain, because that's what makes us write."
Ever spend all night thinking about every mistake you've ever made in your lifetime? We writers dig all those dark things up every time we write. It hurts, but it makes us happy. 

Dec 15th 2015
"Just spent the last five days making my book playlist. How many words I wrote? Heh, none."

29th Dec 2015
*sobs*: "If my life was a movie, it'd be a romantic comedy and tragedy. It'd star me, a crazy teenager who laughs at her own jokes and crushes on everyone. And the tragedy is that nobody loves me."

26th Dec 2015
"I just used chocolate as a bookmark."
Good thing it was December.

Dec 26th 2015
Just in case I wasn't already awkward enough: "I like narrating my life out loud, and I think it's completely normal. Until someone in my family asks who I was talking to in my bedroom. Thank you, guinea pigs, for being my excuse."

27th Dec 2015
"I got a new bookmark and I think I've fallen in love again."
With a bookmark.
It's a really beautiful bookmark though.

Dec 25th 2015
"I finally got Red Queen! I've wanted to read it for ages!"
And it took me, what, six months to actually open it. My TBR-pile is endless. Too many books, too little time.

Sep 28th 2015
"When reality kicks you in the face, throw a book at it. preferably a thick one."

Nov 24th 2015
"I haven't read in a while because of school. I miss books. It's like I'm on the other side of the world and missing home. Between the pages is where I belong."

If storyworld is where you belong, then you need a palace there. And building palaces takes hard work and persistence. Word by word. Brick by brick. Don't give up on your dreams. Stick with your goals and reach them, until you've built the life of your wildest imagination.

Words are your kingdom, so be the Queen or King worthy of them.

Happy writing!

Check out @StoryworldofEm