Inspiration from Maya Angelou

Renaissance woman Maya Angelou is an exceptionally inspirational woman. She is a poet, educator, historian, best-selling author, actress, playwright, civil-rights activist, producer, and director. Despite extreme trauma and hardship, Dr. Angelou still rose to become successful in the countless endeavors she has accomplished. Many people are fans of Maya Angelou for her eloquent poetry, inspirational books, and strength through suffrage. If we look beyond her ability to turn a phrase or overcome hardship however, Maya Angelou can teach us so much more. Lover of life and learning, she can inspire us to live with tenacity, passion, laughter, and courage.

Passion. Passion is a very important virtue, it drives us to do what we love. Maya Angelou knew that without passion our lives may never reach their full potential. She writes, “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.”[2] If you take nothing else from Dr. Angelou it should be to follow your passions, wherever they lead you. Find a way to do what you love and do it well.

Laughter. Maya Angelou has an exceptional sense of humor. She expresses it through witty banter, clever story telling, and brilliant poetry. Once, in an interview, when asked about her sense of humor, Dr. Angelou responded with a chuckle saying, “If you don’t laugh, you’ll die… Against the cruelties of life, one must laugh.”[4]

Courage. Born in the 1930’s, Maya Angelou lived through times of racial discrimination and hardship. As a very young girl, she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend. Yet this devastating trauma does not define who Maya Angelou is. Instead, she has transformed her anger and sadness into strength. Maya Angelou believes that we should apply courage to everything we attempt. She writes, “Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”[5]

     Courage is not the easiest quality to exhibit.  To be courageous, we must learn to be resilient. When you're resilient, you develop a mental capacity that allows you adapt, with ease, when things don't go your way. Letting go is a big part of courage.  It's the ability to let go that drives a constant process of change—it's what makes people flexible and adaptable. We also have to be honest with ourselves, knowing who we are but also understanding what we want and what going after it. Whatever you believe in, whatever you love, go for it and never stop your pursuit.  And you will go places. Of all the qualities Maya Angelou held, she inspired us to live life to its fullest regardless of who, what, where, when or how.  

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