I originally started to write this post back when I first read Kate Bolick’s Spinster, a memoir that looks at the five women who were her “inspirational awakenings.” Well, obviously, I was inspired to come up with my own list, but it’s a bit all over the place – there are singers, actresses, characters, and whole books that have felt quite inspirational to me, so we’re going to look at them all and analyze my psyche, as I often do (that may sound like I’m being sarcastic, but I’m really not – that’s often what I do when I’m trying to fall asleep).
1. Marina & the Diamonds
Marina & the Diamonds, or Marina Diamandis, is my favorite singer – period. If I had to choose just one singer to love and listen to for the rest of my life, it would be Marina – I love her music, but I also love the message behind so many of her songs and just listening to her interact and talk online and such. She’s a feminist who’s not afraid to say that she’s a feminist, and she doesn’t get nearly enough attention – although I do believe she’s slowly starting to get some mainstream attention. Most of the time I’m a big hipster who’s constantly thinking “I found her first, she’s mine!” (because being possessive of a person is always a good idea *so much sarcasm*), but I also want her to achieve her dream and find lots of success, so I am happy for her. I got to see her live as my first ever concert back in May, and it was fantastic. Back to relating her to me, though – she’s just really inspiring to me. She’s a feminist who says what she thinks (normally in soong, which I can’t quite do, but whatever) and totally owns her personality, whether she’s worshiping Brittany Spears or having fun with fashion. Basically, I would love to be Marina & the Diamonds, but I’ll settle for loving her from afar and being inspired by her.
2. J.K. Rowling
I mean, come on, how could I not list her when writing is one of my greatest passions? She’s inspiring just based on her writing alone, but she’s an inspirational person as well. She came from basically nothing, a single mother on welfare who kept trying to get her book published even after publisher after publisher rejected it. She writes such beautiful words, even when talking about relatively mundane things like a small British village trying to elect a representative or whatever the equivalent is. She writes intricate stories with loads of foreshadowing that make me want to write a mini-book before I even start a story so that I can be as genius-like as she obviously is. She’s passionate about many other things, though, and she isn’t afraid to talk about them about her Twitter or wherever, and she’s always giving us little tidbits about our beloved Harry Potter and answering question after question, even when other authors might get annoyed or tired of it all. Basically, I want to be J.K. Rowling – obviously I want to be many people, but she’s the writer that I want to be.
3. Ruby Oliver
I’m not sure if this was true, but I feel like Ruby was my first exposure to a protagonist with serious anxiety issues, someone who is too neurotic most of the time and worries over silly things but just can’t turn off all the thoughts in her head because someone telling you to “calm down” just doesn’t work. We aren’t twins, but we share a lot of similarities, and it was just so great to see that in a character. When I first started having serious issues with anxiety, I felt a little less alone because I kept referring back to this beloved series – people who say that books aren’t important or are “just” stories are underestimating their power.
4. Maximum Ride books
I first discovered this series back when I was in sixth grade or so – I think I just randomly pulled the book out at the library and instantly fell in love with it all. I loved everything about it, from the characters to the science-fiction creatures to the thrilling story. I quickly raced through the first two books and eagerly awaited the third book, which was slated to be the final book at the time (it didn’t end up being the last book, and it went downhill after that, but that’s not the important part here). When I finished it, I was super depressed – and I’m not just throwing that word around. I was only in middle school or so, but I just felt kind of empty, even though I kept telling myself that I was being silly, it was just a book (I know, I know, I just talked about how books are more than simply books, but I was trying to calm myself down, not build up books), but I just felt so horribly, horribly sad that it was over. So, this wasn’t really a good experience, but I think it was when I really started to realize how attached I get to things, and it might have been a sneak peek of future anxiety and such – yet, despite that, I still look at the early books of the series fondly and want to reread this at some point – and forget that the later books happened. Maybe find some good fanfiction where that never happened…
5. Anna Paquin
I’ve been a fan of Anna Paquin for a while, even though I really haven’t seen her in a whole lot in the grand scheme of things. I saw some of her earlier work, like Fly Away Home and voicing Castle in the Sky, and I loved her in the X-Men movies, but I’ve only ever seen part of the True Blood pilot and none of her other work comes to mind immediately, but I love her for multiple reasons. She has a very distinct voice, which I’ve long loved just for… reasons, I really don’t quite know why. But as I’ve gotten to know her over the years, I’ve just grown to love her even more. For one thing, she’s proudly bisexual, and she’s not flustered when dealing with old white men who don’t understand it (hello, Larry King). We need more bisexual role models, and she is a great example of one. She also has a noticeable gap in her teeth; over the years, I feel like the slight gap between my front teeth has become more noticeable – I like to blame getting my wisdom teeth out just because I can, but I really don’t know for sure. So, it’s great seeing someone who embraces her gap, even in a place like Hollywood – seriously, if she ever gets it fixed, I’ll be heartbroken. I’ve very, very tempted to watch True Blood just for her, even though I’m not sure that it sounds like my thing.
6. The Westing Game
Do you remember those fabulous book catalogues you’d get every once in a while back in elementary school? I always loved those, and I found some real gems thanks to them – including one of my longest “favorite” books, The Westing Game. I think it was actually my mom who picked it out – she thought it sounded interesting and it was probably one of the cheaper options because it didn’t come with all the extra stuff (the people behind those things really knew how to get kids to spend more money…), so she bought it. I didn’t know anything about it, but as soon as I read it, I loved it. It probably wasn’t like many of the books I was reading at that time – there were many different main characters, many of which were at least in their early twenties and older – there were only a few teenagers and one character who was in middle school, yet I still connected with the story so well. There was also some much-needed diversity, but I probably didn’t even realize it at the time – I just knew I liked all the characters and the story, whether there are multiple races and backgrounds or not. It doesn’t matter that I know everything that’s going to happen – I still love rereading this book, and it’s definitely one of the more worn books on my shelf.
(I don’t remember where I got this picture – her Instagram, maybe?)
7. Tahereh Mafi
Tahereh Mafi doesn’t seem to be scared of showing who she is at all. She’s an awesome Persian woman who is totally fashionable while still remaining true to her roots, including always wearing a haji while still being uniquely herself. Her books are quite beautifully written, a trait that just seems to extend to her life in general. She’s always traveling and taking beautiful pictures of her fabulous-looking life, when she’s not being entertaining and loving books. Now if only she would go ahead and finish writing whatever is up next – I think it might be middle grade, but if it’s as beautifully written as her Shatter Me trilogy, then I’m reading it anyway.
8. Happy Endings
This is the type of friendship that I want. Six best friends with plenty of different personalities that all work together so well. They have their disagreements and drama, but ultimately they’re always there for each other. I also need this show back on air, but that’s unrelated – the friendship is the important thing right now. As an extremely introverted person, even though I have friends, I’ve never really felt like I have a group of best friends who I can open up to about anything. I want to have the type of friendship where I have big moments with them, as well as lots of fun conversations and wacky adventures.
9. Luna Lovegood // Evanna Lynch
There are so many amazing characters in the Harry Potter books, but Luna Lovegood is my baby. She’s herself, no matter what – the most important thing in her room are the portraits of her best friends, no matter what they think of her, and she’s a Ravenclaw. Her portrayer is an inspiration as well, though. Evanna Lynch is basically a huge fangirl who got to live out her dream as one of her favorite characters ever. She also cares about many different causes, like taking care of the animals that share our planet, things she often Tweets about. Basically, Evanna is an amazing person, Luna is an amazing person, and I am not worthy but basically want to become them.
10. Lupita Nyong’o
I haven’t seen her in anything, but I still love her. She definitely got on my radar when there was so much well-deserved Oscar buzz for her part in 12 Years a Slave, but it was her speech for that award that really inspired me. She seems totally confident with herself, even though she’s in a town and industry where she isn’t valued for many things, like her color and gender. She loves fashion and can be feminine in her own way, without lighter skin or long, unnatural hair. I want to see her in some movies, but even without seeing her work, I’m inspire by her as a person.