Maya Angelou

Everyone who knew who Maya Angelou was, is (and probably will be for a long time) in awe of her. This is nothing new. She went through so much and yet she came out of the other side, stronger, wiser and a beacon of light and hope for several generations.

Growing up, I had always “heard of” Maya Angelou but I didn’t know as much about her life or her work. Over time though, this obviously changed and I found out something very important about her that has really resonated with me –  there are an abundance of inspirational quotes, and indeed inspirational people, out there but there are very few I can think of who are consistently correct about life regardless of age, sexuality, gender, class, race or indeed any other physical traits that people possess. Few people are so insightful, so apt at capturing the essence of what really matters in life and truly able to speak to not just the person that you are but to the person you should aspire to be. Here are those times Maya Angelou was absolutely spot-on about your life:

  1. “Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”
  2. “If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.”
  3. “I do not trust people who don’t love themselves and yet tell me, ‘I love you.’ There is an African saying which is: Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.
  4. “If I am not good to myself, how can I expect anyone else to be good to me?”
  5. “You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody.”
  6. “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”
  7. “I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.”
  8. “Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.”
  9. “I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.”
  10. “Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.”
  11. “My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness.”
  12. “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”
  13. “Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.”
  14. “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
  15. “If you get, give. If you learn, teach.”
  16. “You are the sum total of everything you’ve ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot–it’s all there. Everything influences each of us, and because of that I try to make sure that my experiences are positive.”
  17. “I learned a long time ago the wisest thing I can do is be on my own side, be an advocate for myself and others like me.”
  18. “All great artists draw from the same resource: the human heart, which tells that we are all more alike than we are unalike.”
  19. “Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.”
  20. “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”
  21. “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
  22. “I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way (s)he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.”
  23. “You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I’ll rise.”
  24. “A wise woman wishes to be no one’s enemy; a wise woman refuses to be anyone’s victim.”
  25. “Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”
  26. “You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.”
  27. “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
  28. “Growing up, I decided, a long time ago, I wouldn’t accept any manmade differences between human beings, differences made at somebody else’s insistence or someone else’s whim or convenience.”
  29. “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”
  30. “Nothing succeeds like success. Get a little success, and then just get a little more.”
  31. “Find a beautiful piece of art. If you fall in love with Van Gogh or Matisse or John Oliver Killens, or if you fall love with the music of Coltrane, the music of Aretha Franklin, or the music of Chopin – find some beautiful art and admire it, and realize that that was created by human beings just like you, no more human, no less.”
  32. “Nothing will work unless you do.”
  33. “Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.”


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