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.

Love,
Em. :)

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