Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you.
– Marianne Williamson
I was rinsing a dish to put it in the dishwasher this morning when I heard one of my gremlin voices echoing a criticism from the past, “You sure are bossy.” It was a judgment lobbed at me when I suggested, long ago, that a person save water by using a sponge rather than a wide open faucet for the task.
Women often know this particular accusation well and we know it to be (often unthinking) code for, “Stay in your place.” We know it to be (often unthinkingly) applied to the same behaviors that, in men, would be lauded as leadership.
No gender, however, is immune from the discordant societal subtext that both deifies those who have gained fame and/or wealth by breaking norms while insisting that the rest of us stay in our socially-acceptable lane.
And so our gremlins are fed an early and consistent diet of messages that cluster around the idea that our britches are sized in accordance with everyone else’s and that the worst thing we can do is get too big for them. This warning isn’t about avoiding narcissism, my friends. This is a way that the gremlins’ fear is expressed as a desire for the cozy, predictable safety of widespread mediocrity.
Your excellence is coded into your unique blend of nature and nurture. Your shine is a fountain within you waiting to be uncorked. That your vibrancy will make some people uncomfortable is a given; there will always be people who will be rubbed the wrong way and people who want everyone to conform to their definition of normalcy. That’s okay. That’s their right. That’s their choice.
Your choice is whether you’ll let their discomfort dull your shine.