I first read Anne Frank’s diary when I was 11 years old, the same age she was when she first starting writing. It wasn’t required reading by my teacher and I was always surprised when I found out later that people had to read it as a class. For whatever reason, I enjoyed reading her diary and getting an insight to what she was going through during the war and afterwards I read a small book of her short stories that she wrote while in hiding.
But it wasn’t until many years later when I was in college that I truly felt connected to Anne Frank and her writing. During one of my college breaks, I watched a movie called Freedom Writers. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a true story about a teacher in an inner city school in Los Angeles. Determined to give these poverty stricken students a better education and to inspire them to achieve better, one of her requirements outside of writing in a daily journal was to read Anne Frank.
I was surprised and happy to realize that these kids were able to find themselves in Anne Frank and that they too suffered through oppression and hate just as she did. After viewing the movie, I knew I had to re-visit the diary.
I loved her more the second time than I did the first time around. I was older and had more understanding of the terrors that can happen in the world. And I also understood her everyday frustrations. Even though she was living under extreme circumstances, she still felt alienated by her family and she still dreamed of love and being a successful writer. She still hoped that one day she’d be able to be herself and not have anybody make her feel bad about it. She hid her true self half the time because she felt that they wouldn’t understand her, yet had deep philosophical statements that left me breathless.
Anne Frank is my hero. Most people mention athletes, actors, and other celebrities as their heroes, but Anne Frank is mine because she was just a girl trying to be herself in a world that didn’t want her to exist at all. And in my world, I’m just a woman trying to be myself in a world that wants me to be the same. We both just want to be ourselves and that is something worth looking up to.