Hearing a Hero: 16 Inspirations from Malala Yousafzai
Among a crowd, upon a stage, amid the humidity, I watched a Nobel Prize laureate enter stage right, bobbing and weaving across her platform. Malala Yousafzai, a champion of girls education, a victim of Taliban assaults, and a lightning rod of hope, is known for her selfless actions – ones that have defined her legacy and continue to trampoline future movements.
Finding her footing, she started to speak swiftly, suddenly, and among the vowels came deft words of a harrowing tale of tragedy turned triumph – though darkness, she did not dwell on. She translated personal victories into the virtues that we can all stand behind, and each and every person in the room felt the weight of that likeness. Malala covered us in a blanket of progress and equality to help us see that we were all one surface to build upon, together – no matter religion, race, or creed. Our Buffalo auditorium had turned into a powerful space where adversity was powerless.
Brilliant moments ignite your mind, and brilliant people inspire your core: on Tuesday evening, Malala Yousafzai sponsored both of these happenings. It’s from this night of watching and absorbing her many truths that new – and reinforced – inspirations came to be; 16, to be exact.
Here are some takeaways, truths, and quotes from my time with Malala:
When you empower locally, you can experience globally. True involvement never happens in a vacuum.
Diversity is beauty. Though it may take millions of girls – millions of Malalas – to defeat ignorance, our progress for better, for all, is already in motion. 130 million girls are at risk for that ignorance, but one-by-one, we create change.
Make your mind bigger to give beauty a way in and beliefs more space to grow.
Education for women is not a western idea nor a progressive agenda item. It’s a basic human right. When women can expand their minds and curiosities, the world can only benefit.
Don’t wait for others to define your being. Find your path and your purpose before someone else does it for you.
True leaders listen. If you want to be a guiding force, open your mind and your heart to the ideas and thoughts of all around you.
Equality for men and women is one of the pillars of basic human rights. We ask the men who sit on these spaces of success to fight for this same equality, too.
Staying up with the news is great. Staying informed with those around you is greater. Talk to your neighbors, ask questions of those around you, and understand your similarities with others – even among the visible differences.
Don’t be your own barrier.
Bravery is a role, not a right. If you believe in something deep enough, it matters – so be brave, be bold, and fight for it.
Play Cricket in your free time – it’s what Nobel Prize laureates do.
Surround yourself with family that supports you, friends that inspire you. But always pay mind to the critiques – they stand to help you appreciate and expand every viewpoint.
Silencing someone often times amplifies them.
Climate change is real. People who don’t believe that need an education.
Keep fighting on, keep speaking out, keep wondering how.
“I would tell all the men and women: You can do it. Just go for it.”
These words and wisdoms supersede just black and white as they live on through a young woman who has lent her heart to the world. I will carry these lessons with me always.