Your differences make you special. I strongly believe that we have to embrace our differences and recognize the gifts that come with them. I learn differently, and while it isn’t always easy, it has been a huge asset for me. Looking at the world differently has fed my creativity, developed my empathy, and made me a better writer and human. Whatever it is about you that is unique, look for the positives in how it impacts your life and embrace those. Not only will you be happier, but you will make an impact.
As part of our series about young people who are making an important social impact, I had the pleasure of interviewing Gracie Dix.
Graceanne “Gracie” Dix is a high school author. She has been writing since she could hold a pencil. When Gracie isn’t writing, she can be found singing, creating art, in the theatre, volunteering, or playing tennis. She loves travel and is a loyal friend. Gracie lives in Dallas, Texas with her parents, Richard and Jennifer, her brother, Nate, whenever he is home from college, and her beloved dogs, Snowball and Sandcastle “Sandy.”
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us about how you grew up?
I was really lucky that I grew up in a house where my parents read to me. There were lots of books, and we were always encouraged to read. I’ve always loved reading and I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember.
Is there a particular book or organization that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Fantasy is my favorite genre. When real life gets hard, I like to flip open a book and climb into the world of fantasy. I immerse myself into the characters’ lives and the story becomes real to me. It’s a great escape.
You are currently leading an organization that is helping to make a positive social impact. Can you tell us a little about what you and your organization are trying to create in our world today?
I wrote Welcome to Superhero School not only for me, but also for all the kids out there who have trouble fitting in, speaking up, and asking for help. Even though each of my characters have super powers, I specifically wrote them so that they would have to work together in order to accomplish big things…like, really big things…like saving-the-world level things. When we learn to value who we are, embrace the differences that make us special, and work together, we can accomplish really big things too.
Can you tell us the backstory about what originally inspired you to feel passionate about this cause and to do something about it?
I love seeing ordinary people do extraordinary things. There are a lot of people in the world right now who can do incredible things — they just have to try. Since I am a huge fan of superheroes and superpowers, I wanted to incorporate those into my book. The characters I wrote had a really big impact on my life, but not because of their powers. As I wrote Welcome to Superhero School, I learned from the characters. They made mistakes, they developed great friendships, and they learned to value each other’s uniqueness. Those are the qualities that really make them super.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
I got an amazing letter from a fan, whose name was “Book Nerd Avery.” It brightened my day and made me realize how much people appreciate my book and what I have to offer. That meant so much to me. I am thankful for all my fans, and I’ve loved getting so many opportunities to talk to young readers and encourage young writers.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
I’m really excited to partner with the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals International (SPCAI). A portion of each copy of Welcome to Superhero School goes directly to help animals. I am a huge animal lover, and my dogs are so important to me. I’m really grateful to be able to give back in this way.
How do you define “Making A Difference”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
People can make a difference in lots of ways. In order to make a difference, you don’t have to feel like there is a lot of pressure, or that you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. You don’t need everyone to like you. You just need to listen to your inner voice and do what you believe is the right thing to do. You have the power to make a difference no matter who you are. Use your heart to make a difference for good. Even if your impact is small, any difference counts. When we all work together to change the world for good, those small efforts add up to big change.
Many young people would not know what steps to take to start to create the change they want to see. But you did. What are some of the steps you took to get your project started? Can you share the top 5 things you need to know to become a changemaker? Please tell us a story or example for each.
When I started writing longer stories, I really wanted to get my work out there. I looked online for a website to upload my work. I found one, but the minimum word count was 50,000 words. (That is a lot!) So, I got started. As I continued writing, I realized I was creating something that I could share with everyone, and hopefully make a difference. Eventually, Welcome to Superhero School was born!
Here are five lessons I’ve learned:
- Listen to your heart. Other people may have different ideas from yours on what you should do with your life, but your heart is your best feature. Value your intuition. It will help you find your passions. I love to write, paint, sing, and act. Valuing my creativity helped me to become a published author.
- Be authentic. It is easy to get caught up in trying to be like/look like/sound like everyone else. There can be a lot of pressure to fit in, especially for tweens and teens. What I want you to know is that trying to be someone you aren’t isn’t healthy, it’s not attractive, and, frankly, it’s boring. People are drawn to authenticity. Part of the reason for this is…
- Your differences make you special. I strongly believe that we have to embrace our differences and recognize the gifts that come with them. I learn differently, and while it isn’t always easy, it has been a huge asset for me. Looking at the world differently has fed my creativity, developed my empathy, and made me a better writer and human. Whatever it is about you that is unique, look for the positives in how it impacts your life and embrace those. Not only will you be happier, but you will make an impact.
- Ask for help. Recognizing you need help and asking for it is a huge key to success. I couldn’t have published my book without the help of my editor. Sometimes, when I am in class or in a meeting, my ADHD brain gets distracted and I have to ask the speaker to rewind and catch me up. Some people think asking for help is a sign of weakness. I’m here to tell you that asking for help makes you strong.
- Just keep trying. I didn’t finish the first longer story I wrote. Sometimes I start a story line, get bored with it, and switch to something else. That’s okay. I’ve learned that I have to just keep writing. When I was editing my book, it was really hard work. I didn’t love the editing process, and it would have been easy to quit. But I persevered, and it made my book so much better than it would have been without the hard work of editing. Whatever it is you are trying to accomplish, you will have setbacks. That’s okay. In the end, the setbacks and hard work made me stronger and led to my success.
What are the values that drive your work?
I value art and creativity. I like to create things. It is exciting to have a story in my mind and then put it down into words. I hope my writing will bring adventure and joy to my readers like it does to me.
Many people struggle to find what their purpose is and how to stay true to what they believe in. What are some tools or daily practices that have helped you to stay grounded and centered in who you are, your purpose, and focused on achieving your vision?
I don’t really have daily practices, but I do love to create and try to do it every day… I paint, I write, and I sing. I try to fuel my creativity with inspiration from reading engaging books and watching interesting TV shows. I know who I am and what I want to be. Feeding my creativity helps me accomplish my goals.
In my work, I aim to challenge us all right now to take back our human story and co-create a vision for a world that works for all. I believe youth should have agency over their own future. Can you please share your vision for a world you want to see? I’d love to have you describe what it looks like and feels like. As you know, the more we can imagine it, the better we can manifest it!
I want to see a world where people are happy with who they are and can recognize the good in their fellow humans. When we learn to value people for their uniqueness, amazing things happen. You can’t discriminate against someone once you recognize their gifts and the change they can make in the world. We have to respect one another. Yes, we are all different. That is a good thing! If we were all the same, we couldn’t accomplish nearly as much. When we believe in ourselves and in one another, together we can change the world for the better. We can work together to accomplish so many things like eliminating abuse, garbage in the oceans, light pollution, and more.
We are powerful co-creators and our minds and intentions create our reality. If you had limitless resources at your disposal, what specific steps would take to bring your vision to fruition?
If I had all the money in the world, I wouldn’t spend ANY of it on myself (well… maybe, like, a hundred dollars, but that’s it)! I would donate to food banks, homeless shelters, animal hospitals, regular hospitals, animal shelters, orphanages, and charities for good causes. But, to be honest, I just want to stop all the fighting going on in the world right now.
There are so many things I would want to do with limitless resources at my expense. I would like to serve as president, I think. I know it’s a lot harder than it sounds, but any opportunity to change the world for the better and listen to people instead of starting wars is a GOLDEN one. I also want to stop abuse of all kinds, so I would love to help the police force or work for an organization that aids people who have been abused. I REALLY want to join the FBI, but, then again, doesn’t everyone? I would love to have unlimited resources to change the world — that would be the ultimate superpower.
I see a world driven by the power of love, not fear. Where human beings treat each other with humanity. Where compassion, kindness and generosity of spirit are characteristics we teach in schools and strive to embody in all we do. What changes would you like to see in the educational system? Can you explain or give an example?
I am really passionate about this subject!
At a baseline, I want to see all schools across the world made accessible to everyone. No one should be denied education, or be discriminated against, for any reason. No matter your race, your gender, if you learn differently or were born different — everyone has a right to an education. Everyone deserves teachers who value you and will encourage you. Everyone deserves to be granted the education to help you make a difference in the world.
Beyond that, I would love to see students encouraged to express themselves, be curious, and work together. This could look like eliminating uniforms to allow more self expression, offering more unique learning opportunities to take on subjects from a new perspective, and preventing bullying through instilling the value that our differences make us stronger when we work together. I would also love to see teachers receive training in how to teach in many different ways. We all learn differently, so to only teach in one way doesn’t make sense.
In addition, I think offering more resources and programs geared towards students’ mental health could be extremely helpful. For example, offering a “nap time” or simply a time to rest every day could help students engage better by allowing their brains time to relax and reset. Sleep helps cement your learning and calms anxiety. I believe the innovative use of therapy animals could be useful as well. Everyone needs a little animal love every once in a while; it’s a great distraction and a great stress reliever. I think structuring the education system in a way that emphasizes A+ quality mental health would prevent many of the problems we find in schools. Students who are going through difficult times, or who just need to talk, need to feel comfortable going to the school counselor. It shouldn’t be hard to get an appointment, and if a student needs something, the school should have resources devoted to helping them get it.
Finally, I think more emphasis should be put on the creative arts. Of course, everyone needs to be able to read and do math, but we also need to learn to value beauty in the world. If we could make all these changes, I believe education would be radically improved and the entire world would have a better future.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
You should NEVER be afraid to try to make a difference. You’ll be a happier and better person for making a positive impact, even if you start small. You could say hi to someone who looks sad, even if you don’t know them. You could help a homeless person or a stray dog. Your actions will make the world a better place, and you will make other people feel good too. You should never be afraid to try anything if you have ideas that you think will improve this world. Even if you fail, don’t be afraid to get back up and try again. Don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself or for other people. Eventually you will succeed and you WILL make the world a better place. Your efforts will change your life, and likely the lives of others, forever.
Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
That’s a lot of pressure! Honestly, I would love to have a conversation with our President and ask him what he wants to do to help the country. I want to have a civil conversation and exchange ideas. I want to hear his knowledge, advice, and wisdom. Then I would like to respectfully give him my perspectives as a teen for how I think this country could become a better place. I think it would be fascinating to have a civil, judgment free conversation!
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Please follow me on Instagram (@gracie.dix.author) where I post book reviews and author updates. My DM is always open to readers and writers! Also, subscribe to my blog at graciedix.com. Twice a month you’ll receive book lists, the occasional freebie, and messages I find inspiring or helpful.
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!