My Fictional Big Sisters

Image Source: The New Statesman

We have role models everywhere. They raise us, sit next to us on the bus, teach us, sing our favorite songs, and touch our hearts through movie screens. Some, we know intimately. Others, we only wish we did. It is important to thank them because they are the ones who empower us to grow and become who we are meant to be. 

As I look back on my life so far, I can point out a great deal of people who have guided me through my life in vital ways and remain by my side to this day. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the books I have read and their power in shaping my values, perspective, and confidence. Though we all lead different lives and face different kinds of role models, we all share the need to look to fiction to find bravery and inspiration. 

One of the first memories I have of trying to emulate a main character’s strength was back in middle school, deep in the era of The Hunger Games. As a dedicated fan of the books and movies, I studied the story and wished I could share the same fortitude in the face of hardship as Katniss does. Though I will never face the treacherous trials she does at the mercy of the Capitol, I did face the loss of a family pet I’d known my whole life. When seeking comfort, I was told to “be strong like Katniss.” I knew what that meant, so I shouldered my sadness and pushed through until I was okay. 

Heroines of all kinds still pervade the stories I read, and I admire them as much as I do Katniss. They show me that anything is possible and that I am capable of achieving and being whatever I choose. Alina from Shadow and Bone, Talin from Skyhunter, Cyra from Carve the Mark, Katsa from Graceling, Nella and Caroline from The Lost Apothecary, and Irene from The Invisible Library are prime examples of the literary women I can look to today. They are equal parts cunning, loyal, ambitious, compassionate, strong-minded, and powerful. I know that when I read their stories, their strengths and the lessons they learn are imprinting themselves on my mind and my heart to forever be a part of the life I lead. It makes me smile to think that other girls and young women are reading these books and being reminded that they too can move mountains and be the heroes of their own stories.  

The media we absorb over the years sinks into who we are and meshes with it in a way that is impossible to untangle. So when you reflect on the days past and remember what you spent time listening to, reading, watching, and learning from, don’t dismiss the art you admired and coveted. They were a part of your world then, and forever will be.