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Nina Simone's Most Inspirational Quotes about Life and Love
Nina Simone from multiple perspectives

Nina Simone's Most Inspirational Quotes about Life and Love

Nina Simone penned a treasure trove of empowering, thought-provoking lyrics. Here are some of the most powerful things she ever said.

Nina Simone lived a complicated life filled with incredible successes. At the same time, it was one just as punctuated with difficulties and lows. Music was the one constant throughout her life, however, and during her decades-long career, Simone released over 30 incredible albums. She continued recording new material and performing until her death in 2003. In 2019, she was inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame.

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Her recognizable melodies and powerful lyrics have withstood the test of time and she’s regularly been called a genius. Indeed, if you listen closely to her songs, you’ll find they aren’t just great tracks — they’re opportunities for learning.

Simone penned a treasure trove of empowering, thought-provoking lyrics, and her interviews have also gifted us with timeless mantras. Here are some of Simone’s most inspirational quotes about life and love. 

“You’ve got to learn to leave the table when love’s no longer being served.”

Nina Simone in a headwrap smiling

The very idea of having to heal after a breakup can be enough to dissuade you from leaving a relationship that has run its course. It can sometimes feel so daunting that simply staying together feels like the easier (and safer) option. However, love alone isn’t always enough to make a union work and there can be a myriad of reasons why breaking up is necessary.

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Whether it’s that you no longer feel heard, your needs aren’t being met, the spark has fizzled out or that you’ve grown in different directions, letting go of a union that is no longer fulfilling is ultimately the right thing to do for both parties. No matter how difficult it seems, if the relationship is no longer bringing you joy or pushing you to be the best version of yourself, you need to leave the table.

Remember, tough situations can be just the catalyst you need to rediscover yourself. Take time to grieve, then embrace the opportunity to refocus on your goals, aspirations and needs.  

“I’ll tell you what freedom is to me: no fear. I mean, really, no fear.”

Black and White Nina Simone with afro

We all experience fear and it’s often the thing that holds us back from seizing the moment and going after what we truly want. Whether it’s fear of failure that’s inhibiting your career or fear of heartbreak that’s stopping you from pursuing a relationship, fear can be the biggest obstacle you face on the path to self-fulfillment.

The longer you focus on a fear, the bigger it grows and the stronger its hold becomes. As Dr. Robert Puff, Ph.D., wrote for Psychology Today, fear is normal because it’s meant to keep us safe; however, there are many cases in which it can be detrimental as it, “keeps us paralyzed, and keeps us from living to our fullest extent.”

If you’re feeling stuck or unhappy, pushing through the fear and taking a leap of faith is the answer because breaking through those self-imposed restrictions is what true freedom is all about.

“If you don’t tell them how you feel, you’re not going to get anywhere.”

Nina Simone in elegant dress and headwrap near a cherub statue

Open, honest communication is imperative to any successful relationship. Whether in your personal or professional life, if you don’t start with a solid foundation built on truth, things will grow shaky and eventually falter.

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It’s true that being completely transparent and vulnerable can be scary, but as Nina Simone tells us, overcoming fear is the only way to truly be free. Even if you worry others won’t agree with you or a potential partner won’t reciprocate your feelings, you shouldn’t hold back from speaking your truth.

And you certainly shouldn’t alter your core values (or pretend to) simply for the sake of being liked or accepted. In order to live authentically, it’s imperative to tell others how you truly feel and respectfully accept their reaction for what it is: their truth. 

“I'm a real rebel with a cause.”

Nina Simone black and white lounging at her ddesk

Self-belief is incredibly powerful, and so is standing up for what you believe in. Yes, it can be hard to fight for what you know is right, but Nina Simone was a rebel with a cause and it’s what we should all strive to be.

It’s a lesson similarly taught by Maya Angelou who showed us all that having a backbone in times of struggle means you’ll never experience failure. That’s because when you push for what you believe in, you’ll always find success through self-fulfillment. However, it’s important to note that simply rebelling for the sake of it is not the same thing.

Your entire heart and all of your convictions need to be behind what you’re fighting for, then you’ll always be rewarded. Even if it’s not with the change you’d hoped for, at least you’ll be secure in the knowledge that you’ve done your part and tried to make the world a better place. 

“Let the wind blow through your heart.”

Being open to the opportunities life throws at you is the best way to ensure you don’t miss out on the wonders and joys that are out there for the taking. This is especially true when it comes to searching for that elusive unconditional love.

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The first step is allowing yourself to embrace the opportunities that come your way, no matter how vulnerable or fearful that may make you feel. Allow yourself to give in to love while embracing the fact that no one knows what the future holds and that opening your heart to someone else might not always pay off.

In fact, it might even hurt sometimes, but the only way you’ll know for sure (and live without regrets) is by taking that chance. In other words, let the wind blow through your heart and see what happens. 

“You've got to learn [...] the way of pocketing your pride.”

Nina Simone black and white glamorous album cover

There is nothing wrong with feeling proud of your achievements, just don’t let pride cloud your judgment or your sensibility. It’s one thing to be open to praise and recognize yourself for a job well done, but don’t allow success to take over everything.

Humility can go a long way and mastering the “quiet ego” is an important step on the journey to becoming the best possible you. Accept your wins and your losses equally and push aside the defensiveness that comes so naturally when you feel like you’ve failed.

We all have our ups and downs and using the latter as an opportunity to learn rather than seeing it as a source of frustration won’t just make you happier, it will also make others feel more comfortable approaching you. That, in turn, will allow new relationships — and successes — to flourish. 

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