“People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”
~ Mother Teresa ~
The older I get, the more I come to know myself. Year after year, I slowly pull away the layers of old identities and beliefs. I pick at them like peeling paint and leave the slivers of who I was at my feet, continuing forward down the path of life. I learn new things and gain new experiences, but mostly I’m learning to become more of who I really am. I’m learning to shed the parts of myself that no longer fit and get comfortable walking through life laid bare. No socially sancted identity to protect me from criticism, judgement, or disapproval. No polite smiles or approved behaviors to make everyone else more comfortable. Just me, exposed for the world to see. Utterly myself, utterly vulnerable, utterly unapologetic about who I really am.
It’s easier said than done.
One of the hardest things we’ll ever do as women is grow into our full potential. Not because we aren’t capable. Oh no, we are profoundly capable, but because we are deeply programmed to make others happy and comfortable at all costs. We are wired to be liked and accepted. Stepping out of complacency into the next level of our growth, deeper into who we really are, feels incredibly risky, terribly selfish, and totally arrogant.
Who are we to make our own rules? Who are we to go against the grain? Who are we to prioritize ourselves, claim our worth, and stand up for our wants and needs?
And so we don’t. We don’t say what we want to say, dress how we want to dress, even dream how we want to dream because we are terrified of abandoning or insulting the people we love along the way.
We would rather suffer silently than risk making anyone uncomfortable.
We would rather be invisible than ask the world to see us for who we really are.
We would rather discard our desires than face judgement, criticism, or failure.
Letting go of what other people think has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I’ve come to learn though, that no matter what I do, someone will disapprove. No matter what I say, someone will disagree. No matter what, I’ll be judged, so why continue to fight a battle that can’t be won? Why waste another minute living for everyone else and ignoring the most important person in my own life, me?
Women seek acceptance, approval, and permission to succeed, but the cold, hard, honest truth is that most people don’t want you to. Most people love you, but prefer you stay exactly the same, predictable and complacent. They don’t want you to outgrow the relationship or into your full potential. They want you to be happy, of course, but mostly they want to stay comfortable and your growth makes them very uncomfortable.
Your growth shines a giant spotlight on their own shortcomings. Your courage magnifies their fear. Your action shows them what’s possible when you stop leaning on your excuses. Jealousy, snide comments, gossip, and criticism often follows. Their judgement has nothing to do with you and everything to do with their own inner potential fighting back against their complacency.
There comes a point when you feel called to grow. When your soul starts stretching and pushing against all your bullshit fears and excuses, twisting you into knots of doubt and restlessness. You start aching for more. You feel a persistent nagging in your bones and the urge to run a little wild from your good, yet complacent life. You start to feel a bit phony, as if you’re living as a cardboard cutout version of who you really are and the effort of it all feels like more trouble than it’s worth.
That discomfort and dis-ease running through your body momma, that’s your soul. It’s calling you to more. You’ve outgrown your current circumstances. Who you are becoming no longer fits within the confines of who you have been. It’s time to open yourself up and create more space for the potential that’s fighting to be let free, that’s fighting for air to breathe life back into your life.
Growth is scary, it’s uncomfortable, but it’s also necessary. Who you are meant to become will persecute you slowly until you become her. She won’t die and leave you to live an ordinary, uncomplicated life. Oh no, she will tortue you slowly and persistently until you answer her calls, honor her desires, and invite her into your life. She is relentless.
So momma, you must choose. Either way you’re going to suffer so the question is, will you suffer the pain of growth or the pain of regret? Will you suffer through your fears and become the woman you’re being called to be or will you spend the rest of your life fighting her unrelenting will to rise?
Everything in nature is meant to evolve into its full potential, including you. We are designed to flourish, to continually move between periods of growth and dormancy, until we eventually die. To deny your soul’s growth is like asking a flower not to bloom. It simply doesn’t know how not to blossom. You cannot restrict a flower’s unfolding and you cannot contain your own, not without suffering.
Yes, stepping into you potential is scary. Yes you’ll feel vulnerable and afraid. Yes you’ll doubt yourself and worry and wrestle with fear.
Do it anyways.
Dreams don’t exist because we’re meant to have the things we dream about…they exist because we are meant to become the woman capable of achieving anything. Who we become in the process is far more important (and satisfying) than anything we will ever accomplish.
Will people criticize you? Probably. Will people think you’re crazy? Maybe. Will you fail? Undoubtedly.
Do it anyways.
I am done smothering my potential under the weight of other’s expectations. I’m done worrying about everyone else’s opinions and instead am focusing on giving the woman I’m meant to be the air she needs to thrive.
I no longer care if you think I’m crazy. I don’t care if you whisper “who the hell does she think she is?”
I finally know EXACTLY who I am, what I stand for, and what I want.
I no longer have time or energy to convince other people of my worth. I’m done trying to explain myself to people who were never meant to understand. My personal journey has nothing to do with them, it never has and it never will. It’s only, always been about me.
When you decide being true to who you are is more important than pleasing others, you may be judged, condemned, mocked, and criticized.
Do it anyways.
As Glennon Doyle says “we must do what we need to do. Those who disapprove will either come around or stop coming around. Either way…lovely.”