Last night I was playing cards with my grandma, like we do every night. Crazy 8’s. And before I came to town, she used to be known as “Magic Fingers,” because she has an uncanny ability to win, every game.
I know it helps that my mom tries to lose, but still, my grandma is great at cards. Well, last night I went in there, with the goal just to have fun and play a good game of cards. I’m not super competitive, but I won’t lose on purpose, so I just kept playing.
And no joke. I won every single game except two. And we played 30 games. My first win, I tossed my last card on the table. Cocky. Feeling accomplished. Knowing that she’d appreciate the win. Second game, still smug with a smile on my face. And by about the fourth win, I started to feel bad. And apologize for winning. And making excuses for why I won. “I’m just lucky today!” “Good hand of cards I guess.” “You’ll win the next one Grandma.” I slumped in my chair and started to feel very uncomfortable. And even though she said she didn’t care, I could tell it was getting less fun for her, the more I won.
Still…not my fault I got THREE eights in one hand.
But this got me thinking about how we all do this in life. How we are all born with a natural greatness. An ability to be big, and bigly be the only version of ourselves that there is in the universe. And somewhere along the line, we’re all taught that our great big selves, sometimes makes other people uncomfortable. Or feel bad. And since we’re also taught that hurting others is the worst possible thing you can do in life (which is consequently why we stay in bad relationships or bad jobs too long), we slowly chip away at the things that make us great. We slowly construct a shell to which we can crawl into when we sense that someone else is threatened by our greatness.
Because we wouldn’t want to take up too much space. Wouldn’t want to be too much the life of the party. Wouldn’t want to be too beautiful to too talented or too much….ourselves. Wouldn’t want all eyes on us, less someone’s feelings might get hurt.
So we hunch our shoulders. We talking more quiet. We dance more controlled.
And this is a problem. Because when we WANT to shine, when we’ve realized we are responsible for a dulled version of ourselves, when we’re ready to step out and make a difference, we don’t have as much access to it. And it takes awhile to get it back. And this is a problem because the full, big, bright version of ourselves is the one the world needs. It’s actually the one that helps MORE people, that makes MORE change, that has MORE fun, and who loves more wholly and completely.
My friend Natalie often tells me that we can’t be responsible for someone else’s feelings. And I agree. It’s not up to me to assume how someone feels, or assume how they are being affected by x, y, or z. It’s not my job to make sure that who I am isn’t making someone uncomfortable. Believe me, I have enough to think about in my own head.
It IS my job, however, to be the most caring, most loving, most compassionate person I can be. To never hurt someone on purpose. To be as helpful and empathetic as I can, while still being exactly myself. You can have both.
And you can do this without being a cocky, egocentric jerk.
So my message to you, is to BE you. Big, bright, full of love and life. Living the life you know you’re meant to live. Love others. Love self. Make a difference. And do all of this while shining as brightly as you possibly can. And if you ever find yourself being given three eights in life…gosh darnit…play them, with love in your heart. And feel good about it.
Where in your life have you ever noticed yourself dimming your own light so that someone else won’t feel uncomfortable? What are your thoughts on this topic? Share in a comment below.
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Wow…spoke directly to me this morning, eh?! Love love love this post! Through lots of internal self reflection, this is by far my BIGGEST challenge I’ve faced my entire life. Failing to do what’s right for me in fear of how it will affect someone else. I still do this, in everything big and small. But, my awareness is pushing me to greater things…and I’ve slowly taking baby steps back to living a more authentic life. Thanks for reminding me that it’s all okay :)
Wow! I’m so glad this resonated with you and it sounds like you’re already on your path. Being aware that we are doing it is the most important, and first step, so CONGRATS!! So…what is one thing you will do TODAY that is taking a baby step towards living your most authentic life?? :)
I would say…being honest with where I am in my career. More specifically, being honest that I’m not in the right job, as it is now. EEekkk…it freaks me out to say that, and I have no idea what I would do in the meantime for income, but something has got to give and it’s not my sanity anymore.
I completely understand lady. Sometimes saying it out loud is the hardest part. But it’s also sending the message to the universe that you’re ready for a change, which almost always allows the Uni to then provide for you! Do you have a coach or a good friend who is awesomely supportive that you can bounce around ideas with? Having support during these “eeeek” times is important.
I do have some amazing friends and family…which is great! Sometimes, though, I feel like such a burden on my family and friends. I’ve thought about hiring a coach, but have to wait a bit until I’m better on my feet financially. In the meantime, your blog etc is soo inspiring!! Thanks for putting the thoughts out there !!!
I hear you lady. And I’m so glad that you are finding the blog helpful. Please don’t ever hesitate to email me if you need some extra support. Much love!
I concur. I don’t ever consider myself to be responsible for someone else’s thoughts or feelings or whatever. I just do my thing and be myself. I have enough subscriptions; I already come down too hard on myself for a lot of things, but at least when I come down on myself, it is because of something I did and not something that another person did.
People already have enough things in life to worry about, I don’t think people should be finding more excuses to not be whomever they are to be.
Ronald Reagan said, “The American dream is not that every man must be level with every other man. The American dream is that every man must be free to become whatever God intends he should become.”
When Steve Rogers was told that he had to return to being the government’s Official Mascot after several decades of autonomy, due to a contract he had signed during World War II, or be forced to surrender the name and identity of Captain America, he told the government Commission on Superhuman Affairs, “I cannot represent the American government; the President does that. I must represent the American Dream, the freedom to strive to become all that you dream of being. Being Captain America has been MY American Dream. To become what YOU want me to be, I would have to compromise that dream…abandon what I have come to stand for.”
In simpler terms, one can only be responsible for themselves. One can also only BE themselves in life.
Once again my dear, I could not agree more. I absolutely love all the quotes you shared mostly because they speak to the most important core theme, in life. Our only job is to live life the way we need to or want to live it. The way that it feels right for US. “One can only be responsible for themselves. One can also only BE themselves in life.” Yes. Exactly.
Love. We all need to walk our own journey.
Indeed we do. :)
This went straight to my heart today, wow. I spend so much time worrying about how I affect other people and what they are thinking of me because of it, I forget sometimes that in doing this I’m not actually being myself, which is what these people (we assume) showed up for. Not to mention the fact that I am spending all my time on things I can’t do anything about (others) when I should be spending time on something I CAN do something about (me). I’ve been so squashed down personality-wise for so long that I find it interesting to see how people react when I’m actually doing well and being confident, it tends to highlight the true nature of a friendship pretty quick. Nothing makes me happier than seeing my friends when they are positively lit up with who they are, it’s taken me a while to see that this feeling should go both ways :) I love that you mention being your awesome sparkly wonderful self with grace, and to the point, not being an asshole about it. There’s definitely a difference between being a cocky jerk and being super confident and it usually comes out in how you treat others. This is really excellent Sally, what an excellent message to get out there!
Wow lady…it’s almost like you get to start ALL over. From scratch. And you get to decide exactly how you want to operate. I know things are a bit rough right now, but I have this really exciting energy in my chest about you right now. Thank you so much for reading and all your support and your words and for being YOU. Your magnificently amazing self. I love you.