Jo March is a hero of mine. Whether I’m reading the book, watching Winona Ryder play her in the movie (as I do at least once a winter), or listening to Sutton Foster (another hero) belt her story in the Broadway musical, Jo’s character never fails to resonate with me, inspiring me to be braver and more creative and hungrier and, well, better. Jo has taught me some seriously valuable lessons over the years and now I’m going to share a few with you:
1. Family always wins.
Jo wasn’t vain about much, but she was vain about her hair. But when her dad got sick and her family needed the money, she rushed right out to sell her locks for the good of the March clan.
“It will be good for my vanity; I was getting too proud of my wig. It will do my brains good to have that mop taken off…I’m satisfied; so please take the money, and let’s have supper.”
She had to weep a little weep in the still of the night over her short hair and that was that. No harm, hair grows and her family was better off for it. Family wins. Every time.
2. You don’t have to date every cute boy who likes you.
Laurie, Laurie, handsome Laurie, rich, sophisticated Laurie – he seemed perfect, but when he finally got all lovey dovey over Jo, our girl just wasn’t feeling it. So instead of acting all wishy washy and playing games, she told it like it was.
“I don’t see why I can’t love you as you want me to. I’ve tried, but I can’t change the feeling and it would be a lie to say I do when I don’t.”
That couldn’t have been easy to say in the heat of the moment, but the Jo I love wouldn’t settle for a boy just because he was sweet and might get his feelings hurt. She knew she was doing them both a favor by shooting him down and she bit the bullet to make the tough decision.
3. You don’t have to be perfect, but you should try and be good.
Her temper was her trouble, but she tried so hard to fight it! One of my favorite little moments is when she’s playing croquet with Fred the cheater.
“Jo opened her lips to say something rude; but checked herself in time, colored up to her forehead and stood a minute, hammering down a wicket with all her might, she went off to get her ball and was a long time finding it, among the bushes; but she came back, looking cool and quiet and waited her turn patiently.”
Take a breath, bite your tongue and come back when you’re ready. The word of a reasonable person is more valuable than that of someone who’s angry all the time over every little thing. Hold your temper for when you really need it.
4. Follow your heart, do your best and it’s all going to turn out just fine.
This quote is from the musical, not the book, but it’s still a good one:
“Sometimes when you dream, your dreams come true in extraordinary ways. Suddenly a day can be so amazing. And sometimes when you yearn, you burn the air and someone else sees the flame you always knew was there.”
Go after the life you really want. If you are truly passionate about something, then your excitement will be contagious and that’s the first step to getting anything you want.
Be fearless and be relentless and never ever doubt that you are good enough, smart enough and gosh darn it, people like you.
Jo March would totally agree.
Feature image via.