I have a confession to make. . .
Are you ready? Here it is. . .
The first few times I read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott I hated Jo March. Although Alcott certainly made her relatable I found her to be something of a pest. Always making things harder for Marmee and talking back to Meg, she seemed to me to be constantly discontent.
As an adult though, while Jo is not my favorite Little Women character I find myself really liking her a lot because of what she has taught me.
The discontent Jo has in her life is certainly justified. Being a woman in the mid-1800s, and being a young woman in the midst of the Civil War would certainly have lent itself to immense struggle. But through this struggle, Jo continues to “plug along.” She works on her writing craft, seeks to improve her mind and soul, and does her best to work hard for her family. The older I’ve gotten the more I realize that Jo really is all of us.
While there is so much talk, and millennials get put on blast for this, of doing work that you find to be fulfilling and if you’re not fulfilled you shouldn’t do the work I think that talk is full of hot air. The reality is that most of us do something, or try to do something, that is going to keep a roof over our heads and food in our bellies even if it’s humdrum. What I’ve learned, and I hope what we can all learn, from Jo is that you keep on doing what makes sense in the moment and enjoy the moments of beauty along the way. We read the Bible to our aunt until she falls asleep and then relishes in the more thrilling tales to be found in the attic. We continue to toil, denied things we work really hard for, with the glimmer of a promise of something better at the end.
So is Jo glamorous? She is not. But many of us are not, but we are still incredible and worthwhile people. Jo continues to show us, after having lived for 150 years, that there is value in showing up and doing your best to improve your corner.