Books have always been a massive part of me. I love that quote that says “a reader lives a thousand lives before she dies” and honestly I think it rings such truth. Throughout my life (it might sound sad) but the characters I read about have become my friends. When I was younger I used to imagine I was Anne Shirley or Elizabeth Bennet, as they provided relatable examples of strong women who I could look up to! They were all like the big sisters that I’d never had and helped me go through lots of things as a young girl. And whilst yes, the bible teaches many of the things I’m about to share, I often found this to be an easier way to understand first. Here are some lessons that these characters helped me learn:
It’s okay to stand up for myself
Alright, maybe hitting someone over the head like Anne is not the best way to do that, but she did teach me to stand up against injustice and not to just let people walk all over you. And while the image that sticks in your head is, obviously, Anne whacking Gilbert across the noggin, the message I took away from Anne of Green Gables as a kid wasn’t that I should smack people. It was that it’s O.K. to stand up for yourself or others when people treat you or them poorly. That’s a powerful thought to put into a young girl’s pocket when you send her out into the world.
I should be proud of my love of books
Characters like Hermione taught me that ‘Hey! There’s nothing wrong with being a book nerd!’ and that I should be proud for my love for them. Without Hermione and her love for books, Harry and Ron would have died in book one. Hermione taught me to be proud every time someone said that I ‘read too much’ (I don’t think that’s possible) and showed me that books can teach you really important things (like this list), and in the case of Harry Potter – possibly save your life!
I am entitled to my own opinions and beliefs
I always hated the saying ‘children should be seen, not heard’ and although that was never expressively said to me, I think we all at some point felt our voice was not heard because we were young. Anne, Hermione, Lucy, Ginny, Elizabeth and many others really put that verse ‘don’t let anyone look down on you, because you are young’ into perspective for me and showed me that my opinion is just as important as a boy’s, an adult’s or anyone’s. They reminded me to not allow my voice to be quashed by powers who did not wish to listen and that my opinion matters even if others do not think so (but that doesn’t mean my opinion is always right!)
I can be the heroine of my own story
Lucy Pevensie had unshakeable faith in Aslan throughout the books and despite other peoples opinion of her she stayed true to what she believed and didn’t shy away. She wanted to fight against injustice and provide help to others. She was a heroine purely because she stayed true to her principles and stuck up for what she knew to be right. She decided to be the heroine. And that is so true in our lives! Especially if God has called us to something scary or new, we need to decide to be the strong heroine and take the challenge head on.
You don’t need a man, to be a hero
Gurllll, you can boss it without that dude! Whilst many of these characters did eventually fall in love and find ‘the one’, the plot didn’t solely revolve around that, and they never pined for that kind of attention. These women stayed true to who they were and knew that one day the right guy would come along but if he didn’t – they were quite happy to live the single life. Importantly as well, the women didn’t fall for guys who liked them purely because of their looks but because of their brains, personality and the way they stayed integral to themselves. What better message for young girls than that a guy should love you for YOU and that you shouldn’t ever betray yourself for a man’s affection.
Bravery is more important than beauty
This statement applies to all of these characters who told me that it is more important to be brave and have courage than look a certain way. In Christianity, God needs us to be courageous and step out of our comfort zone in order to do what he has called us to and the same is true here. These fictional women taught me that I need to be brave in order to do the awesome things I aspire to do in life, and really can inky have my own adventure if I have courage! In times of fear I know that God is with me and therefore I need not be afraid (and I guess that the things these characters have taught me are with me too!)
We are not perfect and we all make mistakes
We’re human! We all mess up or make mistakes or judge people unfairly and whilst the things we do wrong are not okay, messing up can be a good thing if we learn from our mistakes as it means we won’t do it again. I loved these characters because they did mess up and they were not in some sort of idealistic impossibly perfect league but truly felt like real people. The thing that made them so relatable was that I too had made many of the same mistakes as them and seeing how they dealt with it helped me deal with my own issue. Truly like a big sister!
Friendship is vital
For me, friendship has always been a really important thing, and I always aspired to finding kindred spirits, like Anne and Diana, with whom to share my life with. Friendships are really important growing up as you get to have someone you can talk to about life who is going through exactly the same thing as you! They’re like a mutual support system and you know you can share your up’s and down’s without any unfair judgement, knowing that they will always be for you in the end! I moved quite a few times growing up and I think what was so great about these characters was that they would never leave me and so their fictional friendships with me became very important when I felt alone or lacked real ones.
Enjoy life! Sometimes it can be so hard to smile when your whole world seems to be topsy turvy, but these characters reminded me to find something positive or something to smile about in every situation! No matter what they were going through they usually managed to crack a small joke or a smile. And the rest of the time – they just enjoyed the ride! They had fun and made a plethora of moments that they could later treasure! They truly taught me that it is important to make the most of every minute. They lived by the mantra ‘carpe diem’ and would never waste time. I think that is something we should all aspire to.
So there you are! These are just some of the lessons these women taught me and I shall forever be grateful for their companionship and friendship. Let us know in the comments your favourite literary heroine and what she taught you!