Wise Words from the Caged Bird

In honor of Maya Angelou’s life and passing this week, I’d liked to highlight some words of wisdom from her that twenty somethings can apply to our everyday lives. The poet, actress, professor, activist and author passed away May 8, 2014 at 86. She left behind a trail of wisdom in the form of countless novels, interviews, scripts and poems. I hope you are inspired by this matriarch of creative genius and leader of social change.


“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.” – Maya Angelou’s Facebook (2011)

“We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.” – The Art of Fiction No. 119, the Paris Review

“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.”  – Interview from the April 2011 edition of O, the Oprah Magazine (2011)

“Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.” – Date unknown

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” – Excerpted from Letter to my Daughter, a book of essays (2009)

“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” – Date unknown

“I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.” – Interview with Oprah for Angelou’s 70th birthday (2000)


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