Maya Angelou was a poet, singer, dancer, and political activist who has touched and changed millions of lives with her words. Many know her name, some know her accomplishments, but few understand the depth of pain, sorrow, and darkness of her early life.
“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
That quote is haunting in its simplicity, when framed within the context of Maya Angelou’s early life. She was sexually abused by her mother’s boyfriend as a child. When her abuser was murdered, likely in retribution, Maya became mute for several years.
Believing it was her voice, accusing her attacker, that resulted in murder.
It was in this darkness, this silence, that her love for words and literature flourished. As expressed in many of her quotes, pain is everywhere. Everyone suffers, and everyone struggles. It’s what you do next that matters.
Here’s 20 Maya Angelou quotes that will inspire, motivate, and help you find the beauty in life.
20 Unforgettable Maya Angelou Quotes
There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.
I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.
We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.
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.
What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.
When someone shows you who they are believe them; the first time.
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.
Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.
I don’t trust people who don’t love themselves and tell me, ‘I love you’. There is an African saying which is: Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.
Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.
You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.
Nothing will work unless you do.
When you learn, teach. When you get, give.
Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.
Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible.
You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.
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.
Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.
If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded.
If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love.
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