Maya Angelou (1928-2014) was an American author, professor, and one of the most important figures in the African American civil rights movement. At the age of eight, she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend. He threatened to kill her brother if she told anyone about it. But she told that brother and only him. The brother went to the police. The perpetrator was sentenced to a ridiculous one year imprisonment. Just before he was due to start serving, the police found him dead.
Maya went mute. “The power of my words led to someone’s death,” she later wrote. And she stayed silent. For four full years she didn’t say a single word. A friend of the family, a teacher by profession, took care of her and provided her with books. She loved poetry. “No, you don’t love her,” said the friend, “as long as the poetry doesn’t come out of your mouth.” That moved Maya to speak again. She began to use words for good and later achieved world fame as a writer.
Maya Angelou did not let herself be broken. And you can see that in the following quotes from her.
1. If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your mindset. Do not complain.
2. There is no greater agony than carrying around an untold story within you.
3. Do not make anyone your priority who you are only an option to.
4. I don’t trust people who don’t love themselves but tell me: “I love you.” There is an old African saying: Be careful when a naked person offers you a T-shirt.
5. We marvel at the beauty of a butterfly, but so seldom acknowledge the changes it had to go through to become so beautiful.
6. You cannot control all the events that happen to you. But you can choose not to let them limit you.
7. Try to be a rainbow in someone else’s clouds.
8. Courage is the most important of all values, because without it you cannot live all others consistently either.
9. I’ve learned that people will forget what you say and will forget what you do … but they will never forget how you made them feel.
10. If you always try to be normal, you will never know how special you can be.
11. You can never use up your creativity. The more you use them, the more creative you are.
12. One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself: forgive. Forgive everyone.
13. My mission is not just to survive, but to flourish – with a little passion, a little compassion, a little humor and a little style.
14. To be successful is to like yourself; to like what you do and to like the way you do it.
15. I have learned that you can learn a lot about another person when you see how they deal with these three points: a rainy day, lost luggage and tangled fairy lights on the Christmas tree.