The Heroines Who Shaped My Dreams

To kick off our focus on courage, I asked a dear friend who has an amazing sense of adventure and still in her young 20’s to share how her she gained those values. There isn’t a challenge or mountain that Rachel Kopec won’t take on. But her passion to explore is rounded out by a kind and generous heart. Today she shares a little about the stories she grew up that inspired her passion for adventure.

When I was a little girl I had an active imagination. One day I would dream about adventuring to the great wild frontier like Laura Ingalls and the next day I was leading my little brother in solving the mystery of our missing kitty like Nancy Drew. My dreams were limitless and my feet were black from running around barefooted 85 percent of the time.

My mom told me stories about our distant relative Pocahontas, (whether or not this is true is left to family fable) and we would explore the woods together. I was captivated by the epic tale of how my Grandma Irma fled her family estate in the old country when the Soviets invaded. Among her many travails included not knowing where her Papa was for many years and also surviving tuberculosis in a German work camp. She was and still is my hero.

All the books I read were about early pioneers, heroic princesses like Anastasia and brave mystery solvers. There were common threads that these heroines shared that shaped the way I grew up seeing the world. They did what was required to overcome scary obstacles, they were courageous, they had integrity and they made history. And they did it all with pure hearts and love for family and friends.

When the little realities of the world would later hit, such as girls at school being mean or trying out for the volleyball team, I kept my optimism and belief that I had what it took to overcome. And I think it might be because these stories shaped the lens through which I viewed conflict. If I had grown up with stories from the Bratz dolls or the modern American Girl McKenna, whose biggest achievements are making the gymnastics team and getting good grades, I don’t know if I would have had the same big dreams.

When Jennifer asked me to share part of what shaped who I’ve become today, a 24-year-old woman working in a field in which I believe I’m doing my little bit to the save the world, all of the stories my mom and dad shared with me came to mind.

Here were some of my favorites that I know I will share with little girls in my life:

Who or what inspired your character growing up?

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