They spit in your face, in your hair, and on your clothes. Their voices only know slurs that cut you worse than the knives they threaten you with. Your eyes burn from the acid they threw in them. Your legs are always sore from running away. When you are faced with difficulties, the qualities needed to subjugate them are resilience, optimism, and interest. In 1957, Melba Patillo was a student sent to integrate a high school and had to deal with exactly this. A girl like Melba named Malala Yousafzai was a Pakistani female education activist and also had to deal with physical threats and violent acts against her. Growing up, I had to deal with normal teenager problems and then some. What all of us of had in common were the qualities that helped us get through those trying times. Every day, doctors save lives of people who do not seem like they will recover. resilience at its finest moment. The ability to bounce back after something is a gift that everyone can possess. Melba Patillo wrote a book on her experiences in Central High, and was bullied and attacked daily. The first day of Central High was destructive and dangerous. Melba states, “I’m gonna be a Central High student Monday morning!” (Beals 68).
Even though she had felt terrible the first day at school, she was still very excited to attend again. A prime example of physical resilience was shown by Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head for being a female rights activist. “Less than three months after being gunned down, she was discharged from the hospital” (Brumfield). Her body was sure it could live and come back from a gruesome injury. I was in the hospital once, in critical condition. However, it was not from a gunman or acid being thrown at me. I overloaded my body with pills that could have been fatal. It had been too late to drink liquid charcoal or throw up the contaminants. I do not remember much, but I remember the doctors speaking in hushed tones about how I would not make it through the night. Strikingly, my body showed resilience.
Malala, Melba and I all bounced back from emotional and physical trauma. Besides being resilient, we were also undoubtedly optimistic towards things in our lives. Often, Melba would look at her integration positively. She would use her selftalk strategy often in her diary. “This is going to work. It will take a lot more patience and more strength from me, but it is going to work” (Beals 117). She knew going in that integration would be difficult, but if she continued with that attitude, she would not be able to succeed. Every time she told herself those things, she reinforced the idea that she could get past those tougher times. Similarly, Malala had a positive attitude towards her work before and after she was shot. “...I’m hopeful that the governments will also support us so we can do collective work with them in Pakistan and Kenya” (Yousafzai 2). Malala had not lost hope in her cause, no matter how it went. Although I was clearly depressed and not so visibly optimistic, I had my eyes set on something. I had it set on a hope, or an idea that I could be a certain way. I was sure that I would become content eventually.
Staying optimistic helped us achieve goals that we set and push through the hardships that came along the way. Most importantly, one has to be interested in their endpoint in order to get past the adversities. Malala’s inspiration lies with her mother, a supporter we do not always see on screen. “My mother always encourages us to continue this campaign. She believes that what we are doing is the truth and we should never be afraid of telling the truth” (Yousafzai 2). With the strength and hope to follow what her mother insists, Malala has the courage to continue on with her advocacy. Melba’s inspiration was just being able to go to school without too many complications. “...I decided I would begin to mark off my days at Central High on the big wall calendar… I longed to see all the cross marks fill the days that would become weeks and then months” (Beals 69). Simply stated, her bigger picture was a simple school day at a school she integrated herself. For myself, I find inspiration in those I love and have loved. I always want to improve with it and have others learn from my successes or my mistakes. With every step of the way, the things that kept all three of us going were the things we were inspired by. They were small (or large) beacons of light, giving us reasons to persevere relentlessly. Truthfully, we cannot escape reality. We can survive it.
Melba Patillo, Malala Yousafzai, and myself all had to find our own reasons and ways of continuing on. The similarities were the core feelings that we had behind them. We were optimistic. We were resilient. Most importantly, we had inspiration. When you get blown back repeatedly, you push forward. Sometimes, you do not know how it happened until you are standing in front of it. All you know is that you made it, and you can make it again, because you learned how to. We are always on our own sides, we always have to do things ourselves, and it is proved time and time again. we can make it, we just have to remember how.