Two women, one dinner

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The prompt for my blog this week is “What one influential woman would you like to have dinner with?”

Honestly, I’m usually not great at picking favorites; if you ask me what my favorite movie is, it is so much easier to give you my top ten than to just pick one. But in this case, I’m not indecisive. When asked what one influential woman I would love to have for dinner, the answer seems obvious – Maya Angelou.

It’s hard to imagine my high school freshman English class without Maya Angelou. My teacher handed out the book “Why the Caged Bird Sings.” Yet, I will honestly admit that this is not one of my favorite books. It is beautifully written, but it is not even in my top ten.

So why would I choose – out of any woman in the world – to have dinner with Maya Angelou?

The simple answer: She is an amazing woman who has done so much.

Now, to the complicated answer.

Look up Maya Angelou on any search engine and you will witness the veracity and variety beneath this beautiful woman. Her occupations list is longer than many could dream of – from prostitute to public speaker, from political activist to dancer. She has come from so little – and everything about her is inspiring to me. Yet, one cannot discount her past. As Guardian writer Gary Younge said in 2009, “To know her life story is to simultaneously wonder what on earth you have been doing with your own life and feel glad that you didn’t have to go through half the things she has.”

Just listening to Maya Angelou talk about her experiences and about her life is enough to make me feel ready to take on the rest of the day. I can’t say that reading “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” inspired me to become an English major – all I know is that I would not appreciate the English language in the way I do without Maya Angelou.

The reason I chose to become an English major is for a variety of reasons and thanks to a variety of authors. Maya Angelou is one of them; and if I turn out to be one-fourth of the person she is, then I know I’ve lived my life to my greatest potential.

But what I love most about Maya Angelou is that she can serve as a testament and an inspiration for anyone – regardless of race, sex, gender, or class.

If you’re having a bad day, a bad week, or a bad year: Remember the most important lesson that Maya Angelou has taught me – your past does not define your future. You define your future, so prove the cynics wrong and do what makes you happy.

Now, go get inspired. The world is beautiful, and it’s even more beautiful with you in it.

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