Independence is a character trait that many people admire. As the largest career community for women, Fairygodboss often attracts women who are independent and looking to find strong, independent role models or other like-minded independent women to hear from.
Independence does not mean that we don’t need the love and support of others in our lives, but it does mean having the courage to pave your own path. Life and career success often requires a level of independence — a willingness to break away from the pack to prioritize your freedom and find your own way.
Many of the successful women we admire today and throughout history are independent women who have overcome adversity and challenged the status quo — they've taught us a lot of lessons about independent women. They serve as role models for many of us who continue to pursue our passions in order to fulfill our purpose and become independent, whether we’re striving to be an independent thinker or to become financially independent. If you encounter challenges or ever need to go at it alone – look for successful women to inspire you and keep you motivated.
Here are quotes from five inspirational modern day and historical independent women who have overcome obstacles to achieve their goals -- in their professional or personal lives.
1) Sheryl Sandberg
Sandberg is the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook and the founder of LeanIn.org. She is the first woman to serve on Facebook’s Board of Directors. In 2015, she unexpectedly lost her husband to cardiac arrhythmia. She recently published a book titled Option B, to help others cope with loss and tragedy. If you’re looking for a good inspirational quote from an independent woman, start with Sandberg — she’s a brilliant and strong fighter whose story is sure to motivate you:
1. “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”
2. “Being confident and believing in your own self-worth is necessary to achieving your potential.”
3. “We hold ourselves back in ways both big and small, by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands, and by pulling back when we should be leaning in.”
4. “What I tell everyone, and I really do for myself is, I have a long-run dream, which is I want to work on stuff that I think matters.”
5. “It is the ultimate luxury to combine passion and contribution. It’s also a very clear path to happiness.”
6. “Trying to do it all and expecting that it all can be done exactly right is a recipe for disappointment. Perfection is the enemy.
2) Oprah Winfrey
Winfrey is an American media mogul, talk show host, actress, producer, and philanthropist. She grew up poor in rural Mississippi to a single teen mom. She was molested as a child, became pregnant at age 14 and lost the baby. She became a news anchor at 19 and eventually landed her own TV talk show which launched her into super stardom. She's a strong woman with a lot of strong woman quotes.
7. “When you undervalue what you do, the world will undervalue who you are.”
8. “Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment”
9. “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”
10. “Turn your wounds into wisdom.”
11. “You can have it all. Just not all at once.”
12. “Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.”
13.“One of the hardest things in life to learn are which bridges to cross and which bridges to burn.”
3) Eleanor Roosevelt
Eleanor Roosevelt was the longest-serving American First Lady. She was a politician, diplomat and a strong activist. She was known as a controversial First Lady because she was publicly outspoken about issues of the day, particularly on racial issues. Her marriage to President Franklin D. Roosevelt was very complicated. Her mother-in-law was very controlling and frequently interfered in her marriage. Eleanor also discovered that her husband had an affair with her assistant. She eventually resolved to seek a public life of her own and dedicated herself to championing human rights around the world.
14. “Do one thing every day that scares you.”
15. “Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway.”
16. “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 have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
17. “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
18. “It takes courage to love, but pain through love is the purifying fire which those who love generously know. We all know people who are so much afraid of pain that they shut themselves up like clams in a shell and, giving out nothing, receive nothing and therefore shrink until life is a mere living death.”
19. “No matter how plain a woman may be, if truth and honesty are written across her face, she will be beautiful.”
4) Sonia Sotomayor
Sotomayor is the first Latina to serve as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. She grew up in public housing in New York’s South Bronx to Puerto Rican parents. From a very young age, she knew she wanted to be a lawyer. Sotomayor graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University and went on to attend Yale law school, where she was editor of the Yale Law Journal. Her wise words reflect the fact that she’s an independent woman with a brilliant mind and an eye for freedom.
20. “Don't let fear stop you. Don't give up because you are paralyzed by insecurity or overwhelmed by the odds, because in giving up, you give up hope. Understand that failure is a process in life, that only in trying can you enrich yourself and have the possibility of moving forward. The greatest obstacle in life is fear and giving up because of it.”
21. “I do know one thing about me: I don't measure myself by others' expectations or let others define my worth.”
22. “Success is its own reward, but failure is a great teacher too, and not to be feared.”
23. “I have always been actively involved in my community, belonging to organizations that promote the interests of Latinos. But I also know that the issues we confront are the same issues, in many respects, as the larger community. So what we do helps not just us but everybody.”
24. “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.”
5) Helen Keller
Helen Keller was an author, activist, and lecturer. Keller was born deaf and blind, yet she earned a bachelor’s degree and became a prolific writer and communicator with a creative imagination. Keller proved to the world that a deaf and blind person could succeed as an independent thinker and thrive in a world of sight and hearing.
25. “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”
26. “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”
27. “One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar.”
28. “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”
29. “Be of good cheer. Do not think of today's failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles. Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost.”
30. “The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight but no vision.”
This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.
Ellie Nieves, JD, MBA, develops webinars, seminars and coaching programs to help women show up, speak up, and step up in their careers and personal lives. She is also the host of the Leadership Strategies for Women Podcast, where she shares success tips to help women achieve more both personally and professionally. To learn more, go to: www.EllieNieves.com.