“Never trust a naked person giving you a shirt!” + 4 more lessons from Maya Angelou.

Alex Aristidou
3 min readApr 9, 2024

Maya Angelou is a great warrior. Her words, poems and social activism demonstrate a person with courage, a positive mindset and a fighting attitude, an attitude to be admired. An individual ready to go through any challenge along her way to achieving her goal and whose focus and determination is to be a lesson for all of us. My favourite poem of hers, Still I Rise, demonstrates her character and spirit from the first to the last word!

In this article, I compile 4 + 1 quotes from Maya Angelou, which are worth to be read more and more. Through those quotes, I aim to transmit part of her messages and get to know her more.

“Words are things, you must be careful … they get on wallpapers, they get in your rugs … and finally they get into you”

As a powerful and influential writer, Maya Angelou places a lot of value on the power of words. She understands how powerful words can be and what an impact they can have in our society. Nowadays, in 2023, most transfers of emotions between individuals happen through words. We observe sentences on walls which carry with them hate, discrimination, attack and division. Instead, the world could really become a better place if those words carried a sign of kindness, unity and empowerment.

“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.”

Through this quote, Maya stresses out once more the importance of self-love, self-acceptance and zero shame about who we are and what we stand for. Maya is wondering, how can someone love others if they don’t love themselves. This is a valid argument and it should impose questions if you observe the behaviour of people towards you..

“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.”

One of the greatest quotes by Maya Angelou. This is a quote often used by many. It provides insights both for business, and professional but also personal relationships. It makes us understand the power of emotions as a driver in one's life.

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

A vital part of Maya’s efforts was to give voice to the ones that needed it the most. To the ones who were not allowed to share who they are and to those who would be discriminated against who they are. Maya understands the difficulty such people face by keeping into themselves an untold story. By having to lie for who they are and what they stand for. By having to bury deep their feelings and emotions. Maya understands what these people feel and how much agony it creates. Even just this understanding is a big step forward in a society more loving and kind to one another.

“You may shoot me with your words, you may cut me with your eyes, you may kill me with your hatefulness, but still, like air, I’ll rise!”

This expression comes from the poem Still I Rise. It is a clear representation of the way of thinking Maya had. This attitude guided her through her life and enabled her to achieve remarkable success and to motivate and inspire generations. It also provides an interesting perspective of a dialogue. Seems that Maya was expressing this emotion of not giving up, on the people who tried to put her down. Through such statements, Maya is able to gather the strength to continue amid criticism and discouragement from others.

What does this article tell us then about Maya Angelou? She is a person with some important pillars.

  1. Self-love is the utmost important value one should hold.
  2. Words are important, don’t underestimate their use of them.
  3. Be proud of who you are and never give up on what you stand for!

--

--