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Celebrating Hans Christian Andersen

by Joshua Sailo

by Victoria Rainbolt

Devika Jajoo

Posted on 06 June 2016

Many of us have grown up listening to the fairytales by Hans Christian Andersen- The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Little Mermaid, Thumbelina and The Ugly Duckling. This man has singlehandedly contributed to shaping the collective consciousness of the West. Can you believe that his teachers in school discouraged him to write, to the extent that it led him into a state of depression?

Look back at The Ugly Duckling. Do you remember the story? One summer day, a mother duck was sitting on her eggs. She had been keeping them warm for a long time and finally, cute little ducklings began to hatch out of their shells. But the last duckling was very big and had gray feathers. Since the duckling was different, he was bullied. He ran away, eventually landing in a pond surrounded by swans. The duckling thought the swans must also think he was ugly. Filled with despair, he looked down. To his surprise however, the reflection he saw of himself in the water was that of a beautiful swan. 

At fourteen, Andersen moved to Copenhagen to seek a career as an actor. His enthusiasm quickly faded, as no one wanted to hire him. There were days he didn’t have anything to eat. He then propelled himself in the direction of writing plays and discovered his true calling. He wrote many scripts and sent them to theaters, where one of them was accepted and he was rewarded a scholarship to attend school. At seventeen, Andersen was placed in a class of students that were four or five years younger than him. Since he was much older and bigger that the rest, he was picked on even by the teachers. But he persevered and was accepted to college. He experienced many setbacks, but never retreated from making efforts for writing. Now, he’s the beautiful swan that soared into the boundless sky of world literature.

Our work is at our finest when we follow what comes most naturally to us. Passion leads the way to inspiration, and helps us live each day in spirit.  If there ever was a moment to follow your heart and do something that matters to you, that moment is now.

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