There are few people with resumes as decorated and varied as Maya Angelou’s. Her list of occupations include fry cook, prostitute, nightclub dancer, cast member of the opera Porgy and Bess, coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and journalist in Egypt and Ghana during the days of decolonization. She was an actor, writer, director, and producer of plays, movies and public television programs. She taught at Wake Forest University and was active in the Civil Rights Movement.
The Grammy winner’s life is a testament to reinvention and growth; metamorphosis:
“If a human being dreams a great dream, dares to love somebody; if a human being dares to be Martin King, or Mahatma Gandhi, or Mother Theresa, or Malcolm X; if a human being dares to be bigger than the condition into which she or he was born—it means so can you. And so you can try to stretch, stretch, stretch yourself so you can internalize, ‘Homo sum, humani nil a me alienum puto. I am a human being, nothing human can be alien to me.’ That’s one thing I’m learning.”
According to the most recent available data from the Bureau of Labour Statistics, the average worker switches jobs every 4-5 years. With these shifts comes stress, anxiety and self-doubt. These feelings are amplified for those of us who are unemployed.
Dr. Angelou’s resolve to renew herself is captured in this quote:
“All my work, my life, everything I do is about survival, not just bare, awful, plodding survival, but survival with grace and faith. While one may encounter many defeats, one must not be defeated.”
Abraham Lincoln famously said, “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” Dr. Angelou recently passed away at the age of 86. A renowned poet, author, and civil rights activist, her heartfelt memoirs, essays, and poems will continue to shine a light on a life of consistent evolution. Her life is one of several successful Year Ones that have compounded every subsequent year’s success.
Rest in peace, Dr. Angelou.