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What Malala Yousafzai Feared More Than A Confrontation With Terrorists

"I did not want to live in a situation where I had no freedom, where I did not have the right to be who I wanted."

Before the world knew her name, activist Malala Yousafzai was a young Pakistani girl speaking her mind in her Taliban-controlled city of Swat Valley. As people were beaten and murdered in public squares, Malala spoke out against the Taliban's destruction of local schools and their ban on girls getting an education. She inspired countless with her determination and message -- but Malala's bravery also made her a target.

On the afternoon of October 9, 2012, two masked gunmen stopped Malala's school bus, shouted for her by name and shot her point-blank in the head. (Two other girls were also wounded.) In what doctors called a miracle, Malala not only survived the assassination attempt, but suffered very little permanent damage. She had since become a symbol of true courage and strength around the world, even becoming the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. All because she wasn't afraid to speak out.

But what is it that allowed such a young girl to overcome the fear that could easily cripple so many others? As Malala, now 18, explains to Oprah in an interview on "SuperSoul Sunday," there was something more frightening to her than any consequence she could face from the Taliban.

"That was a very difficult time. More than 400 schools were destroyed and women were not allowed to go to markets and girls' education was banned completely," Malala says. "I was not really afraid of speaking out, but I was afraid to live in that situation."

Not only was that situation frightening in the present moment, but Malala also saw what deep-rooted damage it could do to her future.

"I did not want to live in a situation where I had no freedom, where I did not have the right to be who I wanted," she says. "Thinking that I'm stopped from going to school... the next thought that would come to my mind is, am I going to be just like the other women in my community, getting married at a very early age -- 13, 14 -- and then having children, and then grandchildren, and that's it? That would be my life. I wouldn't be myself."

Malala knew that an education was the key to this freedom, and without it, she would be resigned to live a life she could never recognize.

"This is what I feared the most," she says. "Rather than fearing if I speak out, I will be targeted."

Malala shares more about her experiences and what she has learned in the aftermath of her near-fatal attack on this weekend's "Super Soul Sunday," airing Oct. 11, at 7 p.m. ET on OWN.

 

 

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