Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
– William Ernest Henley
If nothing else, take from this poem the command to master your own fate, to captain your own soul. In life and in your career, it’s important to take stock of what it is you’re looking for, and to go out and actively seek it. Sitting around and waiting for something great to happen never helped anyone- so start working toward your New Year goals!
If ever there was a man with words to light a fire under you, it’s Frederick Douglass. Without further ado:
I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence.
– Frederick Douglass
“I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestioned ability of a man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.”
-Henry David Thoreau
via Henry David Thoreau Quotes – The Quotations Page.
“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”
“Citizenship in a Republic,” Theodore Roosevelt, Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910
via Quotations of Theodore Roosevelt by The Theodore Roosevelt Association.
“Man, unlike any other thing organic or inorganic in the universe, grows beyond his work, walks up the stairs of his concepts, emerges ahead of his accomplishments.”
– John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
via ‘Grapes of Wrath’ Quotes.
“For, like almost everyone else in our country, I started out with my share of optimism. I believed in hard work and progress and action, but now, after first being ‘for’ society and then ‘against’ it, I assign myself no rank or any limit, and such an attitude is very much against the trend of the times. But my world has become one of infinite possibilities. What a phrase – still it’s a good phrase and a good view of life, and a man shouldn’t accept any other; that much I’ve learned underground. Until some gang succeeds in putting the world in a strait jacket, its definition is possibility.”
— Ralph Ellison (Invisible Man)
via Ralph Ellison Quotes.