This past Christmas, my mother-in-law gifted me a book written by Justice Sonia Sotomayor called My Beloved World. I had a great time reading the book as she shares quite a few childhood experiences that were similar to my own. (Click here to read that post.)
What I found truly inspiring about the book though were all the bits of wisdom scattered throughout. I knew I would never remember them so every time I came upon something I thought was simple yet profound, I put a sticky note next to it. Below are a few of the bits of wisdom that Justice Sotomayor shared in her book and that have made me take notice of things in my own life.
- But experience has taught me that you cannot value dreams according to the odds of their coming true. Their real value is in stirring within us the will to aspire. That will, wherever it finally leads, at least move you forward. And after a time you may recognize that the proper measure of success is not how much you’ve closed the distance to some far-off goal but the quality of what you’ve done today. (In the Preface)
- There are uses to adversity, and they don’t reveal themselves until tested. (Chapter 1)
- I learned that day is still one too many kids never figure out: don’t be shy about making a teacher of any willing party who knows what he or she is doing. In retrospect, I can see how important that pattern would become for me; how readily I’ve sought out mentors, asking guidance from professors or colleagues, and in every friendship soaking up eagerly whatever that friend could teach me. (Chapter 8)
- I was fifteen years old when I understood how it is that things break down: people can’t imagine someone else’s point of view. (Chapter 11)
- But what really binds people as a family? The way they shore themselves up with stories; the way siblings can feud bitterly but still come through for each other; how an untimely death, a child gone before a parent, shakes the very foundations; how the weaker ones, the ones with invisible wounds, are sheltered; how a constant din is medicine against loneliness; and how celebrating the same occasions year after year steels us to the changes they herald. And always food at the center of it all. (Chapter 12)
- The nature of many things, I might add: success is its own reward, but failure is a great teacher too and not to be feared. (Chapter 15)
- Ken said the same thing, and the sentiment has been expressed countless times by minority students everywhere; by some accident of fate, we few among the great many had won the lottery. As the winners we stood in for all those not so lucky – some truly brilliant kids like Nelson, who slipped up, or others who’d never crossed paths with someone who could point the way, or who’d never even heard there was a way. (Chapter 17)
- If you want to change someone’s mind, you must understand what need shapes his or her opinion. (Chapter 17)
- When a young person, even a gifted one, grows up without proximate living examples of what she may aspire to become – whether lawyer, scientist, artist, or leader in any realm – her goal remains abstract. Such models as appear in books or on the news, however inspiring or revered, are ultimately too remote to be real, let alone influential. But a role model in the flesh provides more than an inspiration; his or her very existence is confirmation of possibilities one may have every reason to doubt, saying, “Yes, someone like me can do this.” (Chapter 19)
- But as for the possibility of “having it all,” career and family, with no sacrifice to either, that is a myth we would do well to abandon, together with the pernicious notion that a woman who chooses one or the other is somehow deficient. To say that a stay-at-home mom has betrayed her potential is no less absurd than to suggest that a woman who puts career first is somehow less a woman. (Chapter 24)
I’d encourage you to read her book as it definitely gives insight into who she is as a person. Feel free to share any pearls of wisdom that you find as there are many.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor is one of the few people I wish I could meet. Perhaps on one of my trips to Puerto Rico I’ll run into her if she happens to vacation there. That would be wonderful!
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