This is the first time I’ve ever shared someone else’s column in this blog. I subscribe to or read several self-help, be-a-better-artist or-business person publications and sometimes they strike a chord with me and sometimes they don’t. This one happened to hit the right note for me today and I thought I would share it with you. Maybe it will hit you at the right time–obviously it did for me. Hope you enjoy it.
Who Do You Think You Are?
I bet that in your heart, in your head and behind closed doors you are this really amazing, confident, outgoing, self-assured, talented, intelligent, intuitive, wise and totally amazing woman with a pretty good singing voice who believes she could nail any acting role she was given. I honestly believe that about myself. I think you might, too. But nobody knows that about us. It’s our little secret.
If I told anyone I felt this way, I fear they would write me off as a crazy old lady (the worst!). So what do I do? I hold back. I play it safe. I don’t make waves, draw attention to myself or show my true colors – my colorful, talented self.
I’ve always wanted to be that version of myself, the true version, but never had the guts to. And now that I have more guts (and am letting a little bit of that show), I am still afraid to let it all loose because I think people expect me to be one way, the way they have always known me to be. If I stop holding back, I expect a walloping dose of “Who does she think she is?” coming at me. (No – what I really fear is people saying that behind my back. I prefer it to my face so I can explain myself.) I’m not living up to people’s expectation; I’m living down to them. How ridiculous is that? I bet you are doing it, too.
There’s a reason why this quote of Marianne Williamson’s is so popular:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And 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.
Williamson’s words resonate with so many of us because they are so true. So many of us feel we are e powerful beyond measure, because we are. All of us. We’re just afraid to show it, to stand out, to shine our light.
I recently read about a Barbara Walters’ interview many years ago with Michael Flatley, one of the talented minds and dancers behind Riverdance. Flatley had recently left Riverdance to start his own, now very successful, Lord of the Dance. Ms. Walters asked him, “Who is the best male Irish dancer alive today?” Flatley answered, “I am.” Soon after the Walters’ conversation, Flatley was interviewed again and was questioned about being so “egotistical” to call him self the “best” dancer. He said that he had to believe he was the best if he was going to charge people to see him perform, otherwise he wouldn’t be authentically connecting with the audience. He asked, “How can I expect people to pay to see me dance if I don’t go on stage thinking I’m the best?”
You can’t expect others to value you and your talents unless you believe it first. Believing it is the first step to making it happen. But just believing is not enough. “Playing small does not serve the world.” It is our higher calling to get out there and be that person. It is selfish not to.
I’ve gone public with it now so I am going to start shining more often. Will you shine with me? It needn’t be a big leap, just one step at a time. That’s all it takes. Think of yourself as a sunrise. Rise and shine!
Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit. ~ e.e. cummings
Lesley Riley, The Artist Success Expert, is the creative founder of Artist Success, Solutions for the Struggling Artist. www.ArtistSuccess.com.