|Marie Curie at 16|
But then I come across a story like that of Marie Curie's. I don't mean the one about her isolating radium and dying from the process. I mean the one about how she refused to sit on her hands and insisted on an education. I wrote about her in this week's column for Small Town Newspaper. When I began working on my column, I thought I would be writing about chemistry and the Nobel Prize and Yay! Strong Women, but I was more inspired by her part in the Floating University than in her success as a chemist.
In the 1800s, Russia was in control of Warsaw, Poland and subjugated the natives by censoring their education and replacing Polish culture with Russian culture. Women weren't admitted to universities no matter where they were born, and this big group of disenfranchised people reacted by forming a secret, underground university. They taught each other, and they found ways to learn despite laws and threats to their very lives. They learned because it was essential whether there was a college for them or not.
I mean, just look at the expression of determination on the girl's face in this photo. She was just 16 here, and you can see the wheels turning in that amazing brain. "You think you're going to hold me back, do you? You're not going to hold me back. I will take what I need, and I will stomp on your nasty head with my angry heal."
My obstacles don't compare even remotely to Curie's, and I don't pretend to relate to her struggles. But I do find her example of getting what she needed, by force if necessary, inspiring. That's not to say I need to run out and get a degree, but there are clearly other ways to educate one's self. And the only thing that's stopping me is my own hand sitting. What's stopping you from getting what you need?