(Estimated reading time 3 minutes)
Playing small serves no one.
Last week I spoke at a women’s event. It was a bold move for me – a choice not to play small. The lead up to it was difficult, not only because the thirty-minute speech was the longest I’ve ever done, but also because I was sharing some very personal content. I share that way in the hopes that my stories of struggle will help others to know that being yourself, no matter what you’re struggling with, is vital. It’s not only being yourself that is essential but allowing others to see the real you. Making your authentic-self visible is a choice to rebel against a norm that says your value comes from presenting a perfect image to the world. It doesn’t. It is a hollow acceptance that only likes the faultless and flawless. Our willingness to accept ourselves despite our self-perceived imperfections is part of the journey towards understanding our value. It goes a long way to helping others accept themselves too.
… as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. Marianne Williamson
So, when the opportunity arose to speak publicly, I said yes. Then I went home and realized I had absolutely no idea what I could say that would keep people’s attention for thirty minutes. I won’t lie, it was a bit of a stress-moment. I prayed that God would show me what to talk about. That night I had a dream. I was reminded of a book I read my kids many years ago. The book was about an eagle who thought it was a chicken. I didn’t remember much more than that, but when I found the book I realized that the story was perfect! Through life’s challenges, the eagle becomes something less than it was intended to be – it sounded like an echo of my own story.
I was beginning to get excited about sharing this story with others, but I still needed a lot more content to fill up thirty minutes. The ideas for what to say came to me in dreams the following nights. 3 nights. 3 dreams. Parallel stories emerged, the eagle’s and my own, about letting go of the layers of who you have become to get back to who you really are. The message – be yourself. You, with all your strengths and struggles, are a masterpiece that should never be hidden.
Despite a wild storm and some power outages on the evening of the event, it was very well attended. I felt tremendously privileged to have the opportunity to share the real me – both struggles and how far I’ve come in my journey from fear and insecurity to the freedom of being the true me.
Your playing small does not serve the world… We are all meant to shine … Marianne Williamson