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35 Inspirational Quotes from Equally Inspiring Women

“Luck has nothing to do with it.”

bell hooks

bell hooks, Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Whether struggling at work, feeling anxious about your next steps, or just need an extra boost to take on the world, a few wise words can go a long way. If you need a new mantra to repeat in the bathroom mirror, consult these 36 inspiring quotes from fellow inspiring women. 

Inspirational quotes on strength

  1. "’I can't' are two words that have never been in my vocabulary. I believe in me more than anything in this world." 

—Wilma Rudolph, world-record-holding Olympic champion and international sports icon

  1. “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” 

―Audre Lorde, American writer, feminist, womanist, librarian, and civil rights activist

  1. “You are your best thing.”

―Toni Morrison, novelist, essayist, book editor, college professor, and winner of the Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize 

  1. “I will not have my life narrowed down. I will not bow down to somebody else’s whim or to someone else’s ignorance.”

—bell hooks, author, professor, feminist, and social activist

  1. “I am a woman phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, that’s me.”

—Maya Angelou, poet, singer, memoirist, and civil rights activist

  1. “You don't have to be pretty. You don't owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don't owe it to your mother, you don't owe it to your children, you don't owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked ‘female.’”

—Erin McKean, lexicographer, founder of Reverb, former editor-in-chief of U.S. Dictionaries for Oxford University Press

  1. “There is no royal flower-strewn path to success. And if there is, I have not found it, for if I have accomplished anything in life it is because I have been willing to work hard.” 

—Madam C.J. Walker, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and a political and social activist

  1. “Champions keep playing until they get it right.” 

—Billie Jean King, former World No. 1 professional tennis player

Read more: 24 Beyonce Quotes That’ll Make You Feel ***Flawless

On taking chances

  1. “I just want women to always feel in control. Because we’re capable, we’re so capable.” 

—Nicki Minaj, rapper, singer, and songwriter

  1. “Luck has nothing to do with it.” 

—Serena Williams, professional tennis player, winner of 23 Grand Slams, and former world No. 1

  1. “Who knows what women can be when they are finally free to be themselves.” 

—Betty Friedan, feminist, writer, and activist

  1. "I am a woman with thoughts and questions and shit to say. I say if I'm beautiful. I say if I'm strong. You will not determine my story—I will." 

—Amy Schumer, comedian, writer, and actress

  1. “There is nothing like a concrete life plan to weigh you down. Because if you always have one eye on some future goal, you stop paying attention to the job at hand, miss opportunities that might arise, and stay fixedly on one path, even when a better, newer course might have opened up.” 

―Indra Nooyi, business executive and former CEO of PepsiCo

  1. “We need to accept that we won’t always make the right decisions, that we’ll screw up royally sometimes—understanding that failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success.”

―Arianna Huffington, author, columnist, founder of The Huffington Post, and founder and CEO of Thrive Global 

Read more: What Is the Glass Ceiling & How Do We Break It?

  1. “Be an amateur. Not everything you do has to be good, especially at first.”

―Ann Handley, writer, digital marketing pioneer, and Wall Street Journal best-selling author

  1. “Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else.” 

―Sara Blakely, billionaire, businesswoman, and founder of Spanx

  1. “People don’t take opportunities because the timing is bad, the financial side insecure. Too many people are overanalyzing. Sometimes you just have to go for it.” 

—Michelle Zatlyn, cofounder of and head of user experience at CloudFlare

  1. “I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women." 

—Nora Ephron, journalist, writer, and filmmaker

  1. “Whatever it is that you think you want to do, and whatever it is that you think stands between you and that, stop making excuses. You can do anything.” 

—Katia Beauchamp, cofounder and CEO of Birchbox.

Read more: 22 Women in Politics Who Fought to Make Better Workplaces for Women

On fear

  1. “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it." 

—Maya Angelou, poet, singer, memoirist, and civil rights activist

  1. “Now that I knew fear, I also knew it was not permanent. As powerful as it was, its grip on me would loosen. It would pass.”

―Louise Erdrich, author, writer of novels, poetry, and children's books

  1. “I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.” 

—Rosa Parks, activist and civil rights leader

  1. “I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.” 

―Marissa Mayer, businesswoman, investor, tech executive, cofounder of Lumi Labs, and former CEO of Yahoo!

  1. “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, “I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

—Eleanor Roosevelt, diplomat, activist, and former First Lady of the United States

Read more: 12 Women & Girls Who Will Inspire You to Be Brave and Do Good

On finding happiness

  1. “Don't wait around for other people to be happy for you. Any happiness you get you've got to make yourself." 

—Alice Walker, novelist, short story writer, poet, social activist, winner of the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize

  1. “For I conclude that the enemy is not lipstick, but guilt itself; we deserve lipstick, if we want it, AND free speech; we deserve to be sexual AND serious—or whatever we please. We are entitled to wear cowboy boots to our own revolution.” 

—Naomi Wolf, author, journalist, and former political advisor to Al Gore and Bill Clinton

  1. “Whatever you do, be different—that was the advice my mother gave me, and I can’t think of better advice for an entrepreneur. If you’re different, you will stand out.”

—Anita Roddick, businesswoman, human rights activist, environmental campaigner, and founder of The Body Shop and human rights activist

Read more: 10 Fiction Books We Can’t Put Down

Quotes on taking on the world

  1. "You could make a case that, along with the technological revolution, the most provocative upending destabilizing thrilling change in the course of human history is that we’re finally in it. … We're here now, women are in the world, and we will not be bullied."

—Meryl Streep, Oscar-winning actress

  1. “Women are always saying, 'We can do anything that men can do.' But men should be saying, 'We can do anything that women can do.'” 

—Gloria Steinem, feminist, journalist, and social political activist

  1. "Women will be hidden no more. We will not remain hidden figures. We have names. … It was woman that gave you Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It was woman that gave you Malcolm X. And according to the Bible, it was a woman that gave you Jesus. Don't you ever forget it."

—Janelle Monáe, singer, songwriter, rapper, actress, and producer

  1. “Justice is about making sure that being polite is not the same thing as being quiet. In fact, often times, the most righteous thing you can do is shake the table.”

—Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, U.S. Representative for New York's 14th congressional district

  1. “Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe you must become its soul.” 

—Coretta Scott King, author, activist, and civil rights leader

  1. “Your value will be not what you know; it will be what you share.”

―Ginni Rometty, business executive and former chair, president, and CEO of IBM

  1. “And if the end result is that someone, somewhere winds up believing they can do something out of the ordinary, well, then you’ve really made it.” 

―Angela Ahrendts, businesswoman, former senior vice president of retail at Apple, and former CEO of Burberry

  1. “Don’t just stand for the success of other women—insist on it.” 

—Gail Blanke, president and CEO of Lifedesigns

Read more: 10 Best Podcasts For Women: Find Personal and Career Fulfillment in Your Everyday Life

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By Abbey Slattery

Contributor

Abbey Slattery is a writer, editor, and pop culture aficionado, most interested in the world of arts and culture and its intersection with politics. Throughout her career, she has contributed to newspapers, magazines, and websites, but is most prolific on Twitter. Abbey firmly believes in the importance of knowing your desert island movies and ranks Scream, Easy A, and Clue as her top choices. 

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