#1: ‘Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.’ ―Oscar Wilde
One of the key elements about this list is these inspirational quotes are lifted not just from life, but more often than not directly from some aspect of their author’s lives, and nowhere is this more true than in the case of Oscar Wilde. ‘Be yourself?’ How could he help being anyone BUT Oscar Wilde?
Though this truly is a gem among inspirational quotes, there isn’t proof Wilde wrote it and its first appearance is in an advertisement by an anonymous author. Still, it seems like the kind of thing Wilde would say, and certainly reflects his life, so we’ll discuss it in that light.
Oscar Wilde is one of the most famous and arguably one of the best LGBT writers of all-time, but happened to live at a time when homosexuality was a crime, and while being both the plaintiff and defendant in various cases regarding libel and slander, was outed, arrested, and imprisoned.
He would write other things—notably De Profundis—while in prison, but he was never quite the same, and his literary career and life were tragically cut short as he died in Paris years later.
What’s more inspirational for our purposes, however, is the reaction of both himself and his mother to his pending arrest.
We think celebrities today often get ‘special treatment,’ but that was the case in Victorian England as well, and there was something of an informal understanding that rather than face trial and certain imprisonment Wilde could just ‘leave’ England retaining his wealth, celebrity and freedom.
Instead, Wilde was true to himself and faced trial with the gnawing expectation that it was one he could not win.
Part of ‘being yourself’ means standing by who and what you are come rain or shine. It’s a fact that the LGBT community and any other marginalized group knows all too well.
Wilde was convicted for daring to feel ‘The love that dare not speak its name,’ and yet the fact he spoke up and stood by who and what he was, even with all he stood to lose and eventually did—that is as inspiring as any number of inspirational quotes.