Known for being one of the most outspoken women in the White House, Eleanor Roosevelt impacted history by being involved in humanitarian efforts throughout her life. Though she was the wife of the 32nd President of the United States, Eleanor was a leader in her own right.

Many people are aware of Eleanor’s influence as a politician, an activist, a diplomat. But what can Eleanor—a shy child who later served as a United Nations spokeswoman—teach us about faith, optimism and ourselves?

1. Remember Your Worth

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”

Eleanor, a tall young woman, dreaded the thought of standing out in the crowd when she was a teenager. But, she influentially taught and lived the concept that no matter what others say, they can’t make us feel inferior unless we allow it.

Growing up, this quote was taped to my bedroom mirror—a constant reminder that we are in control of our thoughts and feelings, regardless of outside opinions.

2. Follow Your Dreams

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams”

An advocate for human rights, Eleanor gave press conferences and spoke out for children’s and women’s issues. Though she was criticized for her active role in public policy, she became a leader for civil rights in later years.

If you believe in your dreams, you can do marvelous things with your future.

3. Find Joy in Nature

“Perhaps nature is our best assurance of immortality.”

Eleanor believed that “nature had more to give, from the healing point of view, than any human being.”

Whether you believe in God or not, nature begs us to believe in a higher power. When you need time to think, to ponder, or to meditate, try finding your own favorite spot in nature.

4. Live Courageously

“You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best that you have to give.”

Sometimes things in life happen because of our own choices. And sometimes things happen as a result of others’ choices. Whether the consequences are good or bad, our only choice is to accept what comes our way. If you are discouraged or intimidated by a challenge, remember to give it the best that you have to give.

5. Do the Impossible

“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.”

Have you ever been faced with a trial that you thought you could not face? Later, were you able to look back and see the strength, courage and confidence you gained by enduring that trial? Perhaps your trial hasn’t ended. In any situation, you gain strength by reminding yourself that you have lived through hard times, and you will manage to overcome the next difficulties that come your way.

Whether Eleanor was busy leading as the First Lady, actively pushing for equality, or serving as American Spokesperson in the United Nations, she was a true example of strength, courage and determination.

Cheri Peacock Hendricks is a graduate of SUU. You can find her running on trails or baking in the kitchen.