Picture this: Two great sprinters running the 400 yard dash, both high-stamina, fast and powerful but one (Runner A) even more so than the other (Runner B). As they’re running, Runner A is running neck and neck with Runner B whose clearly giving their all, yet Runner A hasn’t kicked it into high gear. In the last 200 yards, Runner A has a decision to make, let Runner B win so they won’t feel bad or kick it up a notch and smoothly pull ahead and win the race. Considering Runner B’s feelings, Runner A let’s up and Runner B wins the race and celebrates a victory all the more clueless of Runner A’s actions.
(for all those who take things so literally, the above is for visualization purposes only.)
In my “coming of age” years, I’d heard all type of things about myself through the grapevine.
“Veronica’s cool, but she’s too damn happy and over the top.”
“She’s always talking about some article or book she read, who cares.”
“Veronica’s so this or too that…”
The things said about me wouldn’t ordinarily be perceived to be “bad” as long as it’s not “too much” for the one criticizing. It took a long time for me to realize this though and I spent alot of time hurt because of it.
I was only hurting myself as I played to the insecurities of these people–giving just the right amount of “me” so they would be ok. I always found myself holding back on my strengths so they’d “like me”. And sometimes it would work, they’d want to be around and I’d “fit in”. And sometimes it didn’t; they still wouldn’t like me and I’d be left out, unconsidered and wondering why or what I did.
And then I turned 30…
There’s something to be said about rounding that corner from 28 on into your 30s. The layers of giving a damn start to fall away and you realize you don’t even like the people you wanted to like you so bad. You stop being interested in making people comfortable with who you are and just do you. You say to hell with not shining so others can feel more secure in their so-called positions. If they’re feeling threatened, it says more about them then it does about you.
When I started actively pursuing the things that mattered; a closer relationship with God, focusing on my family and homelife, focusing on my business goals, I started operating as 100% myself. I’ve still got work to do but I like who I’m allowing myself to be–who I’ve been all along. I insist on continuing to be that instead of hating the person I made myself to “fit” someone’s idea of who I should be. As I’ve done so, superficial relationships have fallen off. And to my surprise, some longstanding friendships I thought never would, did too.
I have a great set of friends and family and I’ve even met some great new friends along the way–people who accept me for exactly who I am. The more I walk in my own personal truth, the less time I have to worry about petty foolishness and the more extraordinary my experiences have become.
The Lesson: Stop Playing Small to Small People
This is not to say that I’m better than anyone or anyone is beneath me. The fact of the matter is, some people can’t see beyond what they don’t understand and it’s not your job, my job or anyone else’s to make them feel comfortable with who YOU are. If they can’t keep up, too bad–tell them to step their game up.
In order to become MY personal best, it was mandatory for me to stop dumbing myself down.
And I will never play small again.
One simple truth: if you and the people around you are continually playing small, it helps no one. When I see the greatness of others, it makes me happy for them. It inspires me to be great in my own ways. When I see other people knocking out their goals, it challenges me work harder to go after my own. But everyone is just not that way and that’s too bad for them.
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
– Anaïs Nin
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Photos by The Style Medic