You could blame it on having done psychology in University or by being too “woo woo” in my personality but I do firmly believe that we are molded by our experiences, like it or not.
I am sure you, like me, know someone who you regard to be brilliant (could be you) but somehow they don’t seem to act or realize their level of awesomeness. Is it that they don’t know, or is it that they choose to dim their light???
Women unlike men for some reason or the other grow up being told consciously or subconsciously that it is improper to say out loud that you are fabulous! You are told not to be full of yourself, not to be prideful, not to be selfish as you may make other people look bad. When women speak up, stand up or choose to speak frankly about their achievements, they open themselves up to criticism and possibly being called a bitch. It’s terrible!
Often we have seen how women have been ostracized in the workplace because they choose not to hide their brilliance, their intelligence, and God forbid, should they speak up and stand their ground. Women in top leadership positions are often labeled with all sorts of names and sometimes have different unfounded rumors that are floated to explain how they got to the top.
We can’t blame it all on the men who choose to sit quietly and not speak up for the women around them, after all….each man/woman for themselves! Sometimes as women we second guess whether its “appropriate” to shine. We sometimes consciously or unconsciously dim our light out of fear of criticism from friends, family or colleagues.
I remember going to boarding school when I was 10. I was excited about the new opportunity and the prospect of being somewhere new. With all the excitement and enthusiasm, I remember the discomfort that came with realizing that the other children found me to be different. In the first year, I spent a lot of time explaining to the other kids that I was black like them. They would respond by telling me how I was different because my skin was too light and I talked a little like a white kid. This confused me so much because looking at them, we were all the same. So I thought.
In the second year of boarding school, I remember asking my mum to cut my long thick hair (those were the days) because having long hair, used to play into the myth that I wasn’t black. My mum couldn’t understand why I would cut my hair and I remember giving her some long story about how it would just be easier to manage. Deep down I knew, I just wanted to be like everyone else. It didn’t stop there friends, I went all in and asked that all my toiletries be changed to what I used to see other kids having, and I learnt to adjust how I spoke so I sounded like everyone else.
Fast forward several years to university. I realized that I had a very keen interest in leadership. I started exploring different positions and I realized that I was actually good at it. I was and am great with people, but I would shy away from positions that required me to be in full view of the masses. I simply could not go through the criticisms I had faced before whilst in primary and secondary school. For the most part, it worked, until a position came up that I really wanted. I knew it would put me in the forefront, I knew it would require me showing how “badass” I can be, and I knew that if I got it, I couldn’t hide in the shadows anymore.
After I got the position, I gained the confidence to speak a little louder, speak with more authority and show just how good I was at producing results. Did I then take over the world?? No friends, I simply graduated to a new more subtle way of dimming my light in both social and professional circles. This way, came with more statements like – “I just did my part to help”, “Oh it was a team effort”, “It’s not really a big deal” and so on. I wish this was the kind of story where I tell you I got over it and now, I stand tall, speak up and say whatever the hell needs to be said without restraint! But it isn’t.
This is more of me sharing how when you notice that you are dimming your light for the sake of other people, whether it's because you don’t want to seem like a bitch, or to make others look bad, stop and catch yourself. Ask yourself, are you deserving of the praise or promotion that you are receiving? If the answer is yes….I have one recommendation. Say, thank you and shut your mouth. If standing out is a fear you have, ask yourself if those same people you are dimming your light for, would dim theirs for you? Ask yourself, if you chose to shine bright and show the world and the people around you, just how much more you can do and be, what is the worst that could happen??
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This song is a fabulous way to remind you not to dim your light!