Open-minded (adjective): having or showing a mind receptive to new ideas or arguments.
“I try never to understand. It’s called an open mind.” – The Doctor
As an English scholar, I feel studying literature has given me a chance to explore, and to be more receptive. Yet I’m always conflicted. Even though I love being a Catholic, I’ve grown to realize that there are issues in life aren’t easy to pick one side or another one. I want to follow God, and have compassion for everyone, no matter what they believe in or stand for. I feel like some times society pushes us in ways that we must decide to be on one side, and not the designated other side. Why do we have to pick? I think it’s more important to focus on what we share, than what divides us, yet both need to be discussed so that everyone gets their voice heard and is valued.
When I started grad school, I became more interested in Feminism, especially because of Emma Watson (who played Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter movies). For a long while before, I felt unsure about what Feminism was about and supporting it. Through Emma’s work with UN Women & HeForShe (check out the new and improved website), she has made me realize that Feminism is ultimately about equality and that both genders need to work together to accomplish this.
Equality doesn’t mean that we are all the same, but that we all have equal rights and opportunities. Everyone should have the opportunity to study what they are interested in, work towards having careers in which ever field they want to pursue, and should be able to be paid well. Another organization, GirlsRising, promotes education for girls all around the world, and spreads awareness that many girls sadly don’t have the opportunity to go to school.
On the latest episode of Girl Meets World, Girl Meets STEM, the main character Riley realizes that science shouldn’t be something that the boys study and the girls just assist. She stands up for the girls to show that we should question the world around us, and not let things just go by. Riley loves science and wants to grow to be better at it. Her long time friend, Farkle, ends up realizing he isn’t giving Riley the opportunity to grow, and motivate her to explore her interests, especially in science. When they work together in science class, they succeed. Even though this episode is about promoting STEM subjects to girls, as well as Feminism, it isn’t the most important aspect. Riley’s mom, Topanga, brings it up when talking to Riley and her female classmates, “Don’t talk yourself out of pursuing something because your afraid of how it’s gonna make you look. What you need to know is don’t let anyone get in the way of pursuing your growth and curiosity no matter what you wanna do.” We shouldn’t let fear get in the way of our exploration, no matter what we do, and not matter what our age.So what does this have to do with being a writer? We have to be open-minded to new ideas and experiences. It’s tough in our world, but we have to do it. Otherwise, we don’t realize what’s really happening around us. We have an important job to do. Share our voices, thoughts, and stories to make others critically think and motivate each other towards striving our full potential. How can we do this? First by reading, watching, listening outside your comfort zone. Second, exploring what you’re interested in, even if you don’t feel confident in your abilities. Third, decide on your immediate and long-term goals for yourself. Fourth, writing what ever you’re drawn to, but also looking towards inclusion of unfamiliar along with the familiar. I was brought to bring up this because I feel it’s really important at this time for both genders to realize what’s going on around them, and working towards doing our part to improving the world in any way that we can, while still striving towards what we hope to accomplish with our lives.
If you’re looking for inspiration, I would recommend exploring the shows and organizations I’ve already mentioned, but also: the completed web series Classic Alice (if you haven’t already) and the book club created by Emma Watson, Our Shared Self. As well as the new Sherlock special, The Abominable Bride (no spoilers, but it’s worth re-watching multiple times to get all the details of this incredible story). The web series explores Alice’s journey in living life according to classic literature, but grows to realize how important making her own decisions. This recommendation is two fold, it first will inspire you to push towards reading books outside of your comfort zone, and then hopefully inspire you to reach for your own dreams. Second, the series is a great way to see how characters and a story plays out in our ever growing modern world. The show goes from telling the story on film, to giving their characters their own twitter accounts and podcasts, etc to create an interactive experience that makes the viewer not only learn more about the characters but also critically think about the story.
The feminist book club, Our Shared Shelf, was recently created, and Emma hopes it will be a way to have an open discussion about though-provoking and empowering literature. The first book is ‘My Life on the Road’ by Gloria Steinem. This turns to the last point of this post, I don’t want to get stuck in my ways that I’m not open to new ideas. Even though Feminism brings forth issues that what the Catholic Church says is contrary to their teaching of what our values should be, I don’t want to close off hearing what someone else has to say. I’ve been taught that we should listen to all sides. I’ve also been taught to have mercy and compassion. I think they all are needed to have a better future. I’m already receptive, but I hope to be more receptive to new books from this book club, as well as the books I study in the semester ahead and in the future. I want read & explore more about science because like Riley, I love science, and sadly don’t explore it as much as I used to. I want to continue exploring and creating new adventures, on and off the page, and not be afraid to take chances. I also hope the same for you. May this year be filled with inspiration and opportunities.