Anne Shirley

“There's such a lot of different Annes in me. I sometimes think that is why I'm such a troublesome person. If I was just the one Anne it would be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn't be half so interesting.” -Lucy Maud Montgomery

I remember being very imaginative as a child. Almost unbridled. I played with my stuffed animals as if they were real. I was in my own head most of the time, somewhere else, in another reality. I devoured books voraciously and held every character I loved deeply in my soul. I also remember talking... a lot. I talked to everyone. I talked to everyone about everything. I was a little too young to understand what it meant when people told me they "couldn't get a word in edgewise" with me, but I know it was a phrase that was used often. My moods and emotions were larger than life.

As I grew up, I became more aware of the meanings of the criticisms that were pointed towards my volume, my words, my quirks. I felt awkward and embarrassed. But as self conscious as I would feel, it was so hard to curb what made me... me. On one hand, I felt rebuked by reminders of "don't talk so much" and stifled laughter when I would get animated when telling stories, but it felt like a wild animal inside me I not only couldn't control, but I had befriended. I was confused. Why couldn't I just be accepted for how I was? Who I was?

And then I met Anne.


From the moment, that first moment, that Anne Shirley (played by Megan Follows) walked down the path in the 1985 Canadian mini series "Anne of Green Gables", reading prose out loud in passionate, hushed tones, something inside of me clicked. I saw myself in her so painfully clearly it was like looking in a goddamn mirror. This deep, deep desire for friendship and belonging. Her exuberant passion for life. Her fiery moods and imagination that stretched to the moon and back. The friends she made with her books and their heroes and heroines. And yeah, she talked a lot.
Since then, Anne Shirley has been my bosom friend. I have met her in the mini series I still love so well. I have met her in the books I have wept and laughed over time and time again. I've introduced her to my daughter who I so desperately hope will grow to be like my red headed kindred spirit. I've grown to love her embodied in a different, but still very much the same Anne in Anne with an E on Netflix. At 30 years old, Anne Shirley is still who I want to be when I grow up. And this is why.

Her passion for life:


“...Isn't it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive--it's such an interesting world. It wouldn't be half so interesting if we knew all about everything, would it? There'd be no scope for imagination then, would there?”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Anne encapsulates passion for me. The wild, fiery rage when she infamously breaks her slate over Gilbert's head  to her being moved to tears by her own writings. For someone who has experienced so much loss and heartache in her childhood as an orphan, she still embraces the beauty of life and all it has to offer so fully, it's hard to not be inspired by her outlook.

Her attitude towards mistakes and failures:


“Isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”
― L.M. Montgomery

Throughout her journey, Anne makes mistakes. A lot of them. All of the time. And even though at times she is mortified beyond all belief, she moves on. She accepts, much more readily than I do, that failure is not only a part of life, but an opportunity to learn. She looks forward to a shiny new slate of tomorrow where today's mistakes don't live. Mistakes are silly things to be laughed over later. Failure is an obstacle that can so often lead to new dreams and goals and paths in life. Anne never stops failing, but she also never lets failing stop her.

Her growth while never losing herself:


“I'm not a bit changed--not really. I'm only just pruned down and branched out. The real ME--back here--is just the same.” ― Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

One of the things I have loved about reading through the Anne of Green Gables series is watching Anne grow from a lost in the clouds child to a dreamy and determined woman. Womanhood doesn't erase the lovely things that makes her Anne, but rather those things grow and merge and channel themselves into the foundation of her future self. Her competitive spirit drives her ambition and determination, lighting her way through school, work and life. Her dreamy imagination creates a safe haven for her pupils like Paul who just aren't understood because of their own fanciful thoughts and imaginings. Her fiery temper directs a fierce sense of justice and her childlike longing for friendship develops into the deepest loyalty that survives any distance or age. Anne's maturity is never stuffy or losing the things that make her Anne.  Like that red currant wine, she is still that "bright red drink" and growing up has only aged her close to perfection.