She didn’t just win a Nobel Prize. She was the first woman to ever win this prestige. And she won it twice! She wasn’t French. She was actually a Slav. And she didn’t discover just Radium. She discovered two previously unknown chemical elements! Curie left an indisputable mark in history. Apart from contributing to the world of chemistry and science, Maria Salomea Sklodowska, who later became known as Marie Curie, taught us a number of essential life lessons, which can be applied in any century by men and women alike, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, age, religion and country of origin.
Albeit being praised for her work, her life wasn’t all glitter, photo shoots and fun play sessions at the laboratory. She had to undergo countless obstacles while being scrutinized by the media, her fellow scientists and the whole world. Here are some valuable and inspiring highlights among all of the life lessons she has left behind.
Gender is irrelevant
Sadly, discrimination is still an oppressive issue for Slavs and non-Slavs alike. Nevertheless, it should never be a determining factor for one’s personal or professional goals. During her time Curie’s world was largely dominated by men and science was believed to be best left to the male population. Despite this fact she proved everyone quite the opposite by becoming the first woman to ever win the notorious Nobel Prize for her outstanding work.
Gender shouldn’t be a key factor for chasing one’s purpose in life. There are no male callings in which a woman can’t advance and vice versa. If we put our gender-related differences aside, we’re all just human beings made of flesh and bones. Take a few notes from Curie’s handbook and don’t let gender define who you want to be or what you want to do.
People will always judge you
Speaking of not letting discrimination pave out your path in life, here’s another intrinsic life lesson Marie Curie taught us – people will always judge you. Based on gender, based on your ancestors, your physical appearances, your hobbies, your profession, skills, social status… the list goes on and on. And the more you forget about this universal fact, the grimmer your disappointment will be.
Curie was being judged by the media, her colleagues, her friends and by the entire society. It didn’t matter that she had already won a Nobel Prize, let alone twice, or that she had a celebrity status among physicians and chemists. As she became more famous and as her contribution to science grew, so did the people’s desire to point out flaws in her personal and professional life. On the bright side, she managed to find the advantageous side of publicity and shared her experiences with the world without giving into any form of judgement.
Don’t give up on your dreams
Born in Warsaw to a Polish family with five children, Curie was no stranger to financial struggles, depression, romantic sorrows and inability to benefit from prestigious education. She was in her 20s when she moved to France, but life wasn’t easy for an immigrant. She suffered through hunger, she was denied a position as a teacher because she was a woman, she had to fight for being perceived as a real scientist, and not just her husband’s “assistant”.
The masses still saw her as a mere helping hand, regardless of her awards and publicly shared researches. She didn’t want neither the publicity, nor the scandals that surrounded her, yet she kept working in her chosen field and served various committees and institutes long after her health had been compromised by the long-term exposure to radioactivity. Curie kept working on her calling until her death in 1934, never falling prey to the immense pile of obstacles life threw in her way.