In life, you will come across many people who will inspire you, and challenge you to be better. It is one of those beautiful things about the world. Then there are the people who inspire people on a global level. Those whose body of work inspires and continues to inspire people from all around the globe even long after they have passed on.
As you list those people down, there is a huge chance Dr Maya Angelou will pop up. Maya’s inner strength and self-awareness made her into an icon. You could not put her in a box. She was an activist, poet, director, and a writer. Maya had some great words of wisdom and she was a living embodiment of their truth. So as we celebrate what should have been her 90 birthday this month, what do we learn from her?
Maya Angelou’s life is the true depiction of ‘women empowerment’. She pushed herself to be the best she could be without letting her gender hold her back. Having grown up in an era where women and more so black women had little to no opportunities she was a force to reckon with.
One of her most famous works, ‘Phenomenal Woman’ champions for the rise of strong, confident women who do not let the world tell her she is beautiful but instead shows the world what makes her beautiful. In our current times, championing for women’s rights and freedoms is at its peak. Women are continuously crossing boundaries that they previously thought were impossible to get through. It encourages women to know that they are phenomenal women, and it is time they started acting like it.
No other human being is responsible for where you end up in life other than yourself
A lot of Maya Angelou’s quotes are centred on the premise that where you are in life is a result of the choices you make. Two of my favourite quotes include;
- ‘If you do not like something change it, if you cannot change it, change your attitude. ‘
- ‘You may not control the events that happen to you but you can decide not to be reduced by them’
So if you are seated down somewhere waiting for Superman to come pick you up, it is time you did something about it. Make life choices wisely and most of all be ready to own up the consequences of your actions.
Find and own your passion
Making money, and living a comfortable lifestyle is all well and good, however when you look back at your life, is there any substance to what you have done? Passion is a strong motivating factor.
‘Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people cannot take their eyes off you.’
This quote by Maya Angelou reminds us of the importance of finding your passion. The thing about passion is that it is like pure energy. You cannot destroy it, only subdue it. If you live your life doing the things you are passionate about, there is a high likelyhood it will be of benefit to others. On the bright side, there is also a chance you can make some good money from it.
People are not as different as they think they are.
In her autobiography ‘I Know Why The Cage Birds Sing’ Maya Angelou says
‘We can learn to see each other and to see ourselves in each other and recognize that human beings are more alike than we are unlike.’
In the autobiography, she talks about the struggle of being a black poet. Ironically, Africans were not slaves during her time but she felt that there were so many restrictions that made one feel like a slave. Back then, people separated themselves due to race. White people were deemed superior due to the colour of their skin.
Fast forward years later, even though racism is not as prominent as it was then, people have found ways to segregate themselves based on things such as tribe, gender, etc. The sad thing is, we separate ourselves based on things we cannot change. People are inherently different but if we do not start seeing the things that make us similar, we will never stop fighting amongst ourselves.
What’s your favourite Maya Angelou quote?
Get to learn about another great woman – Wangari Maathai: The Green Warrior