Yousafzai_IAmMalala

“We liked to be known as clever girls. When we decorated our hands with henna for holidays and weddings, we drew calculus and chemical formulae instead of flowers and butterflies.”

“Let us pick up our books and our pens. They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.”

“In Pakistan, when women say they want independence, people think it means we don’t want to obey our fathers, brothers, or husbands. But it does not mean that. It means we want to make decisions for ourselves. We want to be free to go to school or to go to work. Nowhere is it written in the Quran that a woman should be dependent on a man. The word has not come down from the heavens to tell us that every woman should listen to a man.”

One Million Page Princess

Malala… the girl who stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to read this one, but I feel like it was a suitable choice to make my 52nd book of the year. I have never felt luckier to grow up in an environment and a culture where not only is it acceptable for a girl to receive an education, it’s expected of her.

For anyone unfamiliar with her story, Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for female rights (especially education) and (at the age of 17) is the youngest ever winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Her father ran a chain of schools in Swat Valley, in Northwest Pakistan, and did everything he could to champion all three of his children (Malala is his only daughter) in their quest for education. Unfortunately, due to the Taliban occupation, girls over the age of 10 were banned from going to school.

You know, since all women are good for is cooking and cleaning, why would they need to learn anything, right?

Malala proceeded to use every media platform made available to her (including an anonymous blog for the BBC), to share with the world what was happening to their lives under Taliban rule. She also continued to go to school along with a few other classmates, even though they had to keep it a secret. As her popularity rose, and her voice grew louder, the Taliban responded in what seems to be the only way they know how: with violence. On her way home from school one afternoon, a gunman boarded her bus, asked for her by name, and then proceeded to fire three shots in her direction. Malala was shot in the head, and two of her nearby classmates were shot as well. Fortunately, all three survived.

This is her story.

I’m not a big crier. I try to do everything I possibly can to hide my tears from others, or avoid it entirely. I have to feel extremely close to you in order to show that side of me. If you do see my tears, it’s usually only for a brief moment before I wipe them away and pretend they didn’t happen. Even when I’m alone, I rarely cry those long hard tears I hear are so therapeutic. This book however, made me bawl. I cried with joy, with amazement, with respect, and with awe. And I cried hard.

This young woman is SUCH an inspiration, and her thoughts, opinions and positions on everything are just so incredibly mature and eye-opening… like I said earlier, never have I felt more grateful for my life, and all the opportunities I have been blessed with.

Want a glimpse of her awesomeness before reading the book? Check out her interview with one of her idols, Jon Stewart.

And with that, dear family, friends, and strangers who have followed me on my journey this year to read 52 books, I thank you.

We did it.

I didn’t accomplish everything I wanted to this year… I didn’t learn to speak another language fluently. I didn’t perform onstage in a play (but came so close!) and I didn’t finish my novel. But this year I have loved and lost, and only grew stronger because of  it. I ran a half marathon. I booked a fun film role. I became an organ donor. I changed a stranger’s life for the better. I traveled somewhere I had never been to before, and I learned to allow myself to worry less, and enjoy more.

Malala’s passion for life, and for a better life, are more inspirational to me now than they ever could have been. Today, on the last day of 2014, I will do my annual reflective run along the sea wall, and take a long hard look at what I did this year, and what I can do better for next year. I encourage you all to take five minutes out of your day today to do the same. If you can, physically write out your dreams for the future. Trust me, it makes a huge difference.

What drives you? What inspires you? What brings you joy? Spend 2015 focusing your energy there, and I promise you everything will unfold as it should.

 

Until next time, and thank you again,

Isis
OMPP