Before She Leaves Series: Nikki Giovanni

“I really don’t think life is about the I-could-have-beens. Life is only about the I-tried-to-do. I don’t mind the failure but I can’t imagine that I’d forgive myself if I didn’t try.” -Nikki Giovanni

I know how to throw a pity party. On my worse days, I can sit around and think of all of the reasons why I am not who I want to be. For a while, these parties were my time to place blame on others for my current situations that had led me nikki gdown the path of failure. I played the victim role as if I was auditioning for an episode of CSI: Miami and Horatio was going to find my assailant within the next 45-minutes so I could move on with the life that was intended for me.

If someone asked me why hadn’t I reached my goals that I had set for myself, I could rattle a long list of excuses of why I hadn’t attained the things that I wanted out of life. I could justify every one of my short comings with so much ease and conviction that people would begin to actually feel sorry for me and pardon my actions.  I was worse than the captured bad guys on Scooby-Doo- “My life would have been better if it wasn’t for those meddling people.”

Playing victim only gets us so far in life. After a while, people are looking for us to overcome these obstacles and actually do something with our lives.

One of my favorite excuses was that I couldn’t be a writer because I was a single parent trying to make ends meet. Another was that I was just a black girl from a small town and that no one could possibly relate to me. I used these excuses to somehow protect me from failure and embarrassment.

Though writing was something that I loved to do, I couldn’t imagine being anything more than what I was at that moment in time. It was not until I began to read The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni that I began to realize that my nikki bookexcuses, not my conditions,  were the only things keeping me from success.

Ms. Giovanni was a black girl from a small town that became a single mother at the age of 26 years old. Though odds were against her, Ms. Giovanni decided to follow her passion of writing and decided to speak out on inequality and injustice. She refused to allow  her circumstances to hold her back from helping others  and following her vision of success. She took those things that may have been valid excuses and turned them into beautiful poems and words of encouragement to inspire others that faced similar situations.

Before she leaves this world, I am taking this time to thank her for being a beacon of hope and inspiration to myself and other writers.

Thank you Ms. Giovanni for making it safe to make fudge and pick my nose. Thank you for showing me that my situations will only remain the same if I allow them to. Thank you for all of your many works of poetry and prose that cause me to not only think, but to act upon my dreams and goals. Thank you for being a true muse of encouragement and creativity.

When we begin to view our failures  as objects to cultivate our growth, we realize that we have the ability to improve and transform into something wonderful.

* Images found on


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