8 Terrific Life-Lessons From Anne of Green Gables
I am sure you’d have either read this ever-green novel while growing up or maybe watched a movie based on the book or perhaps watched the more recent adaption on Netflix like me. Since then, I have fallen in love with the central character — ‘Anne’. She is wise, thoughtful, energetic and inspiring and sometimes a little annoying (but I will overlook that part).
The entire series teaches us rather insightful life-lessons — these aren’t uncommon but still rare. And as they say in the series, Anne was ahead by a century. So there’s plenty of exciting and insightful life-lessons relevant to our times. Let’s dive right into it.
#1. Society develops when we are more inclusive
Anne has been pivotal in making the town more inclusive. When she first came to the village, she wasn’t accepted by the neighbours, the school kids and even in the social gatherings. But with her resourcefulness and communication skills, she has been able to find her way to their hearts.
When she was introduced to Bash(an African-American from Trinidad) — she was excited to meet a man of colour, and she said it out loud without pausing for a second how inappropriate could that sound. She didn’t have any ill-feelings and wasn’t corrupted by society then. She was genuinely excited to meet a person from another race.
She teaches how we can be more accepting and accommodative of people who are different from us. Her attitude of inclusiveness and oneness inspired others in the community to act in the same stead. We can witness that when the town pulls together to bid Mary (Bash’s wife who suffers from an infection), a happy farewell.
Similarly, although faced with initial resistance, a widowed teacher with unconventional teaching methods also finds her way into the community.
Often, it takes a village to raise a kid; sometimes, it takes a kid to make a village more inclusive.
#2. Curiosity opens new avenues
When Anne meets K’kwat (an indigenous girl living near Green Gables), she is curious to learn about their community — how they live, what they do for a living and the language they speak. She then finds a way to spread awareness about them to others in the village.
How often are we curious to know people from a different race or religion. Unfortunately, as the world is becoming increasingly xenophobic and homophobic, we aren’t as open as this thirteen-year-old to know people who are different than us.
Curiosity helps us thrive by discovering novel ways of leading life.
Maybe use more imagination and less internet.
#3. Adventures are exciting, no matter the consequences, keep them going
When she started her reading club or the time when she boarded the train without a ticket to fetch bulbs from Charlottetown — her little escapades and misadventures kept the ‘child’ in her alive. We should all do that — it doesn’t hurt to take sporadic decisions once in a while.
When was the last time you drove to an unknown destination? Or the last time you paid a surprise visit to your parents? Or the last time you did something insane?
Think of stories you want to tell your kids and their kids. Do something that even surprises you.
#4. Adversity is an opportunity in disguise
When Anne was locked in the attic with nothing else to read but the fire safety manuals, little did she know her knowledge would come in handy to put out a real fire emergency. Adversity can reveal the hidden strengths that you didn’t even know you have. Circumstances teach us a lot in life. You either use it to your advantage or spend time worrying about it.
If you feel your life is miserable, in this internet age, you are sitting on a golden treasure.
Fix your problems, tell your story. Learn, Grow and Share.
#5. A strong language can be a powerful tool
Reading helped her develop her vocabulary. It helped her discover an entirely new world of imaginations — a quality that most of her friends didn’t possess. She used her imagination to get through the most lonesome times. She also very cleverly uses language to counter the orthodox arguments made by the elderlies.
I have always had a love-hate relationship with language. In all honesty, my language skills are lacking — I spend twice the time in writing and editing an article than an average writer. But I have learnt the merit of having good communication skills. It helps me write better. It helps me to run outcome-driven workshops, write effective emails, resolve conflicts and organize my thoughts. I wish I took up writing professionally earlier in life.
Another way to strengthen command over any language is by reading. Reading helps in developing vocabulary and grammar. It also helps to widen your imagination and explore an entirely different world. But don’t read just one genre or from one source.
Read books, novels, magazines or long essays, any literature of your interest to widen this world of knowledge.
#6. When they defeat you, rise back stronger
When Anne tries to publish her article on ‘equal rights’ and ‘freedom of speech’ in the newspaper, it causes quite a stir. She gets criticized by everyone, unfriended by all in the school and ultimately gets fired from the editorial responsibilities. However, an undeterred spirit that she is, she challenges the authorities and that too in a novel way — she trespasses into their meeting, calls the entire township to witness the show and finally delivers a powerful message.
‘Freedom of Speech is a human right.’
It is a powerful message delivered most creatively, at an impeccable time. How many times do we challenge those in power, and what happens when they try to shut us down — do we rise back or feel intimidated by them?
This is your fight song. Take back your life song.
#7. Live your life as you want to and not how others dictate
It has been the central theme of the entire series. Anne is a free-spirited person who will not bow down towards anyone. She doesn’t have everything figured and doesn’t know a lot of the worldly ways. But that’s what makes her special.
She has a unique way of doing things. She lives it wholeheartedly — fearless of the consequences and unafraid to speak her mind. She is knowledgeable, has a kind heart and is full of life.
Be Anne. Be You. Simply, be true to yourself. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Certainly don’t get influenced by hundreds and thousand other people who have already achieved success in that field. It’s alright — you are not competing with them.
You carve your niche — that unique persona. It matters. Don’t let them tell you otherwise.
#8. Low self-esteem can cause more harm than good
Accept who you are the way you are. Red hair, freckled face and a lean body don’t matter when you are intelligent, wise and empathetic. Anne learnt that the hard way too. She wanted lustrous black or brown hair like everyone else. So, she attempts to colour her hair, but unfortunately, the results are devastating. Eventually, Marilla, her guardian had to cut her tresses short making it a tad bit more manageable.
However, times have changed, and so has the standards for beauty. Today no one cares if you have red or green or yellow hair. It’s considered to be a way of expressing your distinct self. Society has become more open and accommodative of the need to express oneself.
But, we still have a long way to go. While we have recently started criticizing body shaming, it hasn’t permeated to all sections of society. Women still face judgment on their dressing choices, body structures, hair and looks.
We need to change our outlook before we can change the world. We are beautiful the day we think we are beautiful. Do not let anyone else decide that.
Stop caring for validation from others. Live for yourself. Set yourself free.