5 Powerful Speeches by Famous Women

Hillary Clinton

“As women today, you face tough choices. You know the rules are basically as follows: • If you don’t get married, you’re abnormal. • If you get married but don’t have children, you’re a selfish yuppie. If you get married and have children, but work outside the home, you’re a bad mother. • If you get married and have children, but stay home, you’ve wasted your education. • And if you don’t get married, but have children and work outside the home as a fictional newscaster, then you’re in trouble with Dan Quayle.

“So you see, if you listen to all the people who make these rules, you might just conclude that the safest course of action is just to take your diploma and crawl under your bed. But let me propose an alternative. Hold on to your dreams. Take up the challenge of forging an identity that transcends yourself. Transcend yourself and you will find yourself … There is no dress rehearsal for life, and you will have to ad lib your way through each scene. The only way to prepare is to do what you have done: Get the best possible education; continue to learn from literature, scripture, and history, to understand the human experience as best you can so that you have guideposts charting the terrain toward whatever decisions are right for you.”

Patti Smith

“Pinocchio went out into the world. He went on his road filled with good intentions, with a vision. He went ready to do all the things he dreamed, but he was pulled this way and that. He was distracted. He faltered. He made mistakes. But he kept on. Pinocchio, in the end, became himself — because the little flame inside him, no matter what crap he went through, would not be extinguished. We are all Pinocchio. And do you know what I found after several decades of life? We are Pinocchio over and over again — we achieve our goal, we become a level of ourselves, and then we want to go further. And we make new mistakes, and we have new hardships, but we prevail. We are human. We are alive. We have blood.”

Oprah Winfrey

“Live your life from truth and you will survive everything, everything, I believe even death. You will survive everything if you can live your life from the point of view of truth. That took me a while to get, pretending to be something I wasn’t, wanting to be somebody I couldn’t, but understanding deep inside myself when I was willing to listen, that my own truth and only my own truth could set me free. Turn your wounds into wisdom. You will be wounded many times in your life. You’ll make mistakes. Some people will call them failures, but I have learned that failure is really God’s way of saying, ‘Excuse me, you’re moving in the wrong direction.’”

Meryl Streep

“That choice, between the devil and the dream, comes up every day in different little disguises. I’m sure it comes up in every field of endeavor and every life. My advice is to look the dilemma in the face and decide what you can live with. If you can live with the devil, Vassar hasn’t sunk her teeth into your leg the way she did mine. But that conscience, that consciousness of quality, and the need to demand it can galvanize your energies, not just in your work, but in a rigorous exercise of mind and heart in every aspect of your life. I firmly believe that this engagement in the attempt for excellence is what sustains the most well-lived and satisfying, successful lives.”

Michelle Obama

“When times get tough and fear sets in, think of those people who paved the way for you and those who are counting on you to pave the way for them. Never let setbacks or fear dictate the course of your life. Hold on to the possibility and push beyond the fear.”