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When I think of heroes in my life, there are so many options to consider: who I am most like, who I have tried to emulate, who I aspire to be. Many could and would answer their parents, an older family member, or even a standout teacher. I certainly could say this too, but I know the truth.
Nancy Drew, you’re my hero.
Nancy Drew is the original female protagonist; her book series started in the 1930s and continues to this day. Nancy is a badass, point blank. With a lawyer father, a spanking blue convertible, and a college boyfriend, she sure does seem like your typical rich girl. But what sets her apart is her knack for solving crimes and mysteries, the way in which she conducts herself, redefining what it means to be a girl.
My good old Polish parents would often push girly things on me: the pink plastic heels, the frilly skirts, the bobbled hair ties splitting my head of hair into two painfully symmetrical pigtails, ingraining a permanent middle part into my mane. My seven year old self would get sweaty running around or rollerblading, and my mother would sigh to me in Polish, zobacz co zrobilas, “look what you did.” In the first grade, when I picked up that Nancy Drew Notebooks paperback, Flower Power, I saw a mix of two worlds I never thought could come together.
I devoured that book, and asked my elderly librarian for more Nancy Drew. She smiled at me, a child who actually wanted a book that wasn’t chock full of pictures. She led me to a back room that smelled of aging texts. She handed me a book, yellowed from age with a plain blue cover, drastically different from the cartoon cover of Flower Power. “I loved those books when I was a girl,” she smiled wistfully, and left me to it. I was confused. It was so thick, some two hundred-odd pages for someone who could barely sit through Sleeping Beauty. The original Nancy Drew series was far more complex and, frankly, rather archaic in comparison to the watered down spinoff that was Flower Power. The pressure was on. I knew that this librarian, also a family friend, would think less of me, this first grader, if I didn’t take the damn book she loved so much. So I checked out The Hidden Staircase, the second book in the seemingly abstruse original Nancy Drew series, and my seven year old brain was rocked.
I sought to become a sleuth just like Nancy, searching for hidden staircases, mysterious mannequins, and old treasures in my attic, living vicariously through Nancy even as all of these endeavors proved unsuccessful for me. As I’ve gotten older, the storylines may have become muddied, but her drive, her fierce independence, and her unrelenting personality have held fast onto me, the daughter of Polish immigrants, who, despite all struggles, have always been told that perseverance is key to success. Nancy’s sleuthing stories only ingrained this trait deeper into my being, instilling a love of reading into me as well.
I am still a sleuth. Curiosity and conscientiousness are perennial in my personality. Whether talking with friends or being editor-in-chief of my school newspaper, The Herald, I always seek the full picture of any problem that plagues me. I may not be interrogating suspects or finding clues as Nancy did, but I am interviewing witnesses and seeking sources. Nancy Drew helped create the person I am today and still will be down whatever paths I may take. You don’t need to be the girl detective herself to figure that one out.
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