One of my favorite books of 2015 was The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. It’s the story of two women – Hetty “Handful” Grimke, a slave girl in early-19th century Charleston and Sarah Grimke, her slave master’s daughter. The book explores their often complicated relationship, as well as their struggle for self-discovery and common desire and pursuit for freedom. In one scene, Sarah’s mother, a cold, hard woman shows rare vulnerability as she explains to Sarah why she must find a husband and abandon her dream to become a judge like her father. “Every girl comes into the world with varying degrees of ambition,” Sarah’s mothers says, “even if it’s only the hope of not belonging body and soul to her husband. The truth is that every girl must have ambition knocked out of her for her own good. You are unusual only in your determination to fight what is inevitable. You resisted and so it came to this, to be broken like a horse.”
There are few books that left a mark on my heart like The Invention of Wings. The story haunted me for weeks and left me with so many raw emotions. Principal among them was gratitude.
For me, it’s not enough to say I’m grateful, but I’ve got to live my life as one bold statement of gratitude.
I am grateful to be born in a place and time that doesn’t require me to put away my ambition. I’m a woman of color, living in the developed world in 2016 where I can do anything and everything I’m big and bad enough to do. I’m not tied to traditional notions of who I should be, what I should do or how I should show up. And when I think of all of the women who have walked this earth, I realize what a rare and precious gift that is. I can’t begin to imagine the countless women who took their dreams to the grave, having prematurely buried their aspirations because society hadn’t yet caught up to their gifts. Due to providence and what Warren Buffet refers to as the ovarian lottery, I get the opportunity to be the truest version of myself, here and now.
It’s a privilege to be part of this generation of women, and not one I intend to waste. For me, it’s not enough to say that I’m grateful, but I’ve got to live my life as one bold statement of gratitude. Opportunity abounds and I plan to seize it, not just for myself but for every woman who wanted to, but couldn’t. Their dreams live on vicariously through me and through every single woman who has decided to chase her own.