“Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.”
– Marianne Williamson (“Our Deepest Fear”)
From jump, my mom and dad didn’t raise me to be mediocre. Once they saw the potential in me, they didn’t let me slide on anything, especially with my grades. It annoyed me when I was younger knowing that, if I got a C, I’d probably get a lecture or something. I mean, technically, I still passed, even if it wasn’t my personal best. I’ll always remember my dad saying, “If you were a “C” student, and I knew that was the best you had, I’d be happy with that. But I know you, and you can do better. So I expect better.” Neither he nor my weren’t comfortable with me just skating by, and pushed me to constantly give my all.
So, because of that strong value instilled in me, I go hard towards my goals. Sometimes, maybe to others, a little too hard. I have no issue staying in the house to work on this site and other projects when I need to. Waking up early and staying up late to get things done. I make time for a personal life, but I sacrifice what I need to so that I can get to where I want to be. If I’m slacking heavy on anything, I’m either really bored with it, or completely over it altogether.
I said ALL THAT to set up this post. Recently, I was honored by a leader on a project for my skills and expertise I brought to the table. Each week, I’ve been bringing my A game. So, during a weekly meeting with the team, this leader congratulates me on my work for the project and reveals he wants me to take on a bigger role. In front of everyone. Which I lowkey don’t like, because it tends to make other people get in their feelings. Sure enough, the slick comments under people’s breaths and chuckles came when no one thought I was paying attention.
After hearing people talk, I walked out of that last meeting, though, irritated and discouraged, like maybe this isn’t for me. “If my team doesn’t want to get behind me, then other people probably won’t.” I thought.
As I thought on that the rest of the night, I said to myself, “Screw that.” I realized that these very same people who were talking, only give the bare minimum each week. They care enough about the project, but that passion doesn’t shine through. Me? I know I could make an impact doing this, and want to try something new, so I’m going to go for it. I never act like I’m better than anyone, because I know I’m not. But I’m also not about to stop giving my personal best simply because other people are comfortable sliding by. I’m not about to play small in this world to make other people feel better. That’s not how I was raised. That’s where this quote from Marianne Williamson pops in.
Granted, this particular project may not serve the whole world, like Marianne states, but it’s something I’m proud to be leading. Something I think I could be really good for with the right amount of training and experience. It’s something that I could help other people with.
Dimming your light to make other people feel comfortable around you does nothing in the grand scheme of things. For one thing, it stifles your own ideas and gifts. In whatever your field is, you have the potential to do great things. You have the opportunity to offer amazing ideas to your company or to your business for improvement. Why should you have to hide what you bring to the table in order to make other people feel secure?
Two, just because you decide to hide your gift to appease people doesn’t even mean that they stop hating on you! Negative people always find a way to pick at others to try to mask their own insecurities or sadness. You trying to hide in a corner or downplay your own skills isn’t going to stop that, unfortunately. You don’t need other people’s approval anyway! If you know that you’re gifted at what you do, keep going in spite of what others think!
Three, it keeps you from potentially helping others. Not only do your gifts give you an opportunity to serve others well, but you also never know who is watching you, inspired by what it is that you specifically do so well. It’s like Marianne presented. “As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” Or confidence to do the same, I should say! I can’t tell you how much confidence I’ve received just from watching other people in my life or that I follow online do what they do so well. That quietly gives me strength to keep going and doing what I love.
Never dim your light to make other people feel comfortable! It only hurts you and others in the long run.