We can always use someone to look us in the eyes and to tell us we can do it! This past May, one lucky group of college graduates listened to the incredible Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie as their commencement speaker.
The author of three powerful novels and recipient of myriad awards, the Nigerian writer gave a speech detailing her life growing up, her struggles with sexism, her embrace of feminism, and, most recently, the kidnapping of her father.
Her advice? Take the world by storm and always strive for a better society. However, it’s really impossible to narrow down her eloquence to one phrase, so here are 11 quotes from her speech to inspire you.
“[From childhood] I already knew that the world does not extend to women the many small courtesies it extends to men.”
“I also knew that victimhood is not a virtue. That being discriminated against does not make you somehow morally better. I knew that men were not inherently bad or evil. They were merely privileged. And I knew that privilege blinds because it is the nature of privilege to blind.”
“Teach your students to see that vulnerability is a human rather than a female trait.”
“All over the world, girls are raised to be make themselves likeable, to twist themselves into shapes that suit other people. Please do not twist yourself into shapes to please. Don’t do it. If someone likes that version of you, that version of you that is false and holds back, then they actually just like that twisted shape, and not you. And the world is such a gloriously multifaceted, diverse place that there are people in the world who will like you, the real you, as you are.”
“I don’t speak to provoke. I speak because I think our time on earth is short and each moment that we are not our truest selves, each moment we pretend to be what we are not, each moment we say what we do not mean because we imagine that is what somebody wants us to say, then we are wasting our time on earth.”
“Never ever accept ‘Because You Are A Woman’ as a reason for doing or not doing anything.”
“Now girls are often raised to see love only as giving. Women are praised for their love when that love is an act of giving. But to love is to give AND to take. Please love by giving and by taking. Give and be given. If you are only giving and not taking, you’ll know. You’ll know from that small and true voice inside you that we females are so often socialized to silence. Don’t silence that voice. Dare to take.”