Life is definitely a series of choices that we make despite the circumstances around us. In case you’re doubting that people can look to their talents to build the life they’ve always wanted, here’s evidence.

Her backstory

Oprah Gail Winfrey was born in a rural town in Mississippi in 1954. Until the age of 6, Oprah stayed on a farm with her grandmother, who encouraged her to learn how to read and love books. By the time she started school, Oprah could read better than her peers and was quickly promoted to a higher grade. Later on, during her high school years, Oprah discovered that she was also a talented speaker and wordsmith. At 17, she earned herself a job at a radio station where she worked while she finished high school, before attending Tennessee State University where she’d earned herself a full scholarship through her public speaking.

Against all odds

When she was just 9 years old, Oprah was sexually abused multiple times by different people. She didn’t have a lot of support from family, so she didn’t talk about her abuse. At 14, Oprah fell pregnant and gave birth prematurely to a baby who died after a couple of weeks. Having gone through this trauma at such a young age, Oprah found comfort in reading, getting an education and being involved in public speaking. She won multiple public speaking competitions in her teens, and one of them awarded her a 4 year university scholarship.

Career map

Oprah started working in radio while she was in college, and then moved on to TV broadcasting. She became the first black female news anchor on one of the first networks she worked for, and then went on to become a talk show host. Oprah didn’t want to be just any kind of talk show host, though, she wanted to be inspirational and informative, which is what drove the Oprah Winfrey Show to become a 25 year success. She is now the founder and CEO of media giants Harpo Productions and the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) and has an impressive net worth of over $3 billion.

What we can learn from her

"Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it.”

It’s not just about being a multi-billionaire, Oprah’s actually interested in helping people all around the world. She’s invested millions in education and efforts against poverty worldwide. Oprah is also a firm believer in learning from struggle and failure, and allowing your circumstances to teach you strength and empathy.

Oprah may have faced numerous struggles as a young girl, but she didn’t let that get in her way. Her passion, positive outlook and determination to learn from her failures and obstacles, are traits we can all adopt.

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