Emma is a 16-year-old high school student who lives in Nashville, TN. She works hard to accomplish her goals and does her best to focus on what’s in front of her instead of worrying about the future.
Prologue: I believe the stories we tell one another have the power to change the world. Especially the stories we tell one another about ourselves.
As a society, we focus so much of our attention on the bold-faced “success stories” of CEOs and best-selling authors, the famous and infamous. We get accustomed to glossy, polished anecdotes that are fun to read but hard to relate to. Too often — especially during these times of isolation and separation — we miss the remarkable stories that live all around us.
The neighbor across the street.
The woman behind the cash register.
The co-worker we see every day.
Captivating, inspiring, powerful stories live inside each of us. This series celebrates those stories with 15 interviews of women whose voices you likely haven’t heard before. (Since March is Women’s History Month, it seems like the perfect time for it.) I asked each of these women to share some of their personal story, and talk about how they have found — or are still finding — their own voice.
Today, we hear from Emma.
What are 3 words a new acquaintance might use to describe you?
Funny, outgoing, talkative
What are 3 words you would use to describe yourself?
Hard-working, diligent, sensitive
What is something you do that brings you deep joy?
FaceTiming with my biological sister in New Hampshire. We are a lot alike, and I am lucky that we found each other in the US.
I spent the first three years of my life in New Delhi, India, and now I live in Nashville, Tennessee, with my mom and my older sister. We are always there for each other.
How did the all the upheaval of the pandemic and everything else in 2020 affect the things you love to do?
I learned how to work more independently at school since we have not been in a classroom.
I have been trying new things while I’m in quarantine, like working out or learning to cook something new.
What or who in your life has most shaped your values?
A lot of people in my life inspire me because they achieved something that was very difficult for them. Like my sister, Ellie— she is finishing her degree as an engineer, and that was hard because she is dyslexic. She worked very hard to achieve her goal because she knew she could do it if she put in the work.
How does your community share your values?
My community is diverse, but everyone’s opinions are respected and everyone has a voice. I know I am lucky to be part of a community like that.
What fears hold you back?
The fear I have is what is going to happen to me in the future. I fear not being a successful person in life and not being responsible for my actions and thoughts.
I’m still working on how to get over my fears, but I started working out and being more active and setting goals to prove to myself that I can accomplish what I set out to.
How has the culture you are raised in informed your ideas about what a woman is supposed to be — how she should look, act, and speak?
My mom is a single mom and has a successful career, so I have learned from her example that a woman can do whatever she wants to do.
A few years ago, I marched with my mom in the #MeToo movement, and that’s when I first realized I was a feminist.
Can you tell us about a time when you felt silenced?
The time I felt silenced was when I didn’t know who I could talk to about what I’ve being going through, but I did talk to my mom about questions in life and what I need to do before I am on my own in the world. I didn’t trust anyone, but I’m glad that I have someone that will help and I can talk to — and not just my mom, but my whole family.
Who is a woman whose voice you really respect?
How do you want to use your voice in the future?
To help others who worry a lot like I do and help them find their purpose and motivation to accomplish their goals.
Read more VOICES…
Jamae Tasker is a Warrior of Love
Shayna Hodkin is a Spellbinding Poet
Sam McWilliams is an Intrepid Cliff Jumper
Hattie Anderson is a Confident Black Goddess
Elizabeth Schroeder is a Swashbuckling Peacemaker
Nikka Diaz is a Natural-Born Empath
Kelly Galeano Arce is a Dauntless Truth Seeker
Tiffany Miller is a Nurturer of Dreams
Natalie Patrice Tucker is a Mother of Dragons
Ruth T. is a Queen of Hearts
Tetyana Borshch is a Radical Daydreamer
Brittani West is a World Class Risk Taker
Tiffani Jones Brown is a Lionhearted Listener
Kathy Azada is a Bright Side Enthusiast
The titles for the VOICES Series come from Exercise #2 in the Permission to Speak Workbook. The exercise, “You have more power than you know,” encourages participants to choose a title from a list that is offered, or — if none of those titles feels right — to make up one of their own.
“Each of us is our own harshest critic, most of the time,” the workbook says. “We don’t always see ourselves as we are. We instinctively try to hide many things about ourselves — our failures, our mistakes, our weaknesses, our obsessions. …But the things that make you you also give you power.”
Each woman interviewed for the VOICES Series either chose a title for herself from this list, or gave herself a title of her own making.