On October 9, 2012 a group of Taliban boarded a school bus in Pakistan, asked for a 15 year old girl named Malala Yousafzai, and shot a bullet in her head.
Why? Because she wanted education and was not afraid of voicing her opinions against those who tried to keep her away from it.
But little did they know that this girl was not going to give up that easily. Now just as we approach the 2 year anniversary of this incident, Malala stands as an icon of inspiration to the children and adults alike. She stands for children’s right to education, women’s right to freedom, and every human being’s right to follow their passion.
Today, July 14, is Malala Day. Malala turned 17 a couple of days ago. In her short life she has already experienced what it is like to make hard choices, stand up for what you believe in, and fight even death to continue your mission.
Just as gold shines even brighter in fire, people emerge stronger after overcoming adversities. Malala’s triumph over violence is an inspirational reminder of this fact. Malala proved that she is stronger than violence, stronger than oppression, and stronger than discrimination.
What are you stronger than?
We all face daemons – some outside of us, but mostly those that are within us. Our thoughts that deviate us from the right choices, insecurities that prohibit us from dreaming big, and weeds of bad habits which stunt our growth are only a few to list.
It is difficult to fight these daemons within us but we must! They stop us from achieving our full potential. They keep us from believing that we can indeed achieve the pinnacle of heights when it comes to our passion. They make us believe others’ judgment of our abilities and inabilities.
Unless we break the shackles that such daemons impose on us, we will not be able to soar to new heights. We will not know for sure what we can and cannot do. We will forever remain scared of failure, and doubtful of our worth.
So what does it take to be stronger than such daemons?
1. It takes awareness and acceptance of the fact that you are no different than any other human being. We all fall prey to such daemons one time or the other. You just need to know which are yours.
I always thought that nobody can ever tell me what I can and cannot do. Such type of talk (and in some cases, discouraging talk) just does not affect me. But I was wrong. It was not until a few days ago that it dawned on me that when it comes to sports and exercise, I let others define my ability.
“You look funny when you run”, “How come you never win any game we play?”, “You need to lose weight if you want to succeed at any sports”. Such were the words I heard as a child and then as an adult.
All these words mostly came from adults who meant well or children my age who did not understand how deeply they were affecting me. Heck, even I didn’t understand that until now.
Instead of understanding their intention, I took the words literally. Somewhere in my mind I started believing that I am not good at exercise and sports. I would give my best and excel at everything else – study, singing, dancing, acting, debating, leadership – everything except sports. When it came to sports, I started convincing myself that I just don’t like playing. The fear of failure was so strong that I stopped trying.
These people may have had some truth to what they were saying. It’s no secret that I will never become a professional athlete but that is no reason for me not to enjoy a casual swim when I am at a beach or a fun game of volleyball at a party or a quick jog as an exercise. I don’t do any of these because it is too hard to ignore those mocking daemons within me.
But now I know better. What will it take to get rid of these daemons?
2. It takes just one step in the right direction. Read this amazing journey of my friend, Kelly, from a 245 pound adult, insecure in her skin to a fitness and wellness instructor confident in her moves and intentions. This inspirational reflection she wrote is what made me realize in the first place that until now I was letting others define my abilities to exercise. Kelly has inspired me by taking that one action a few years ago which has now led to her transformation.
People like Malala and Kelly are just like you and I. It does not take extraordinary people to achieve extraordinary heights. It takes ordinary people with extraordinary strength to believe that they are stronger than their daemons, and courage to continue taking one small step at a time no matter what.
On this Malala Day, take the first step of noticing the daemons you intend to fight. Make your intentions real by making the promise to the fellow readers. Write your declaration “I am stronger than…” in the comments. Then make a commitment to keep your promise by taking one small step every day to fight against your daemons.
Let’s revisit these comments in another week or month. I am sure when you read your own comment, you will realize that you have become stronger than what you are today. When you read others’, you will feel inspired.