I said the words and let them sink in. I am watering myself down. Again. How did that happen? When did it start? When did I shrink? When did I hold myself down, clip my own wings, hide?
When did I forget, the bigness that lives inside me, the big dream, holding onto it while trading the small days and thinking the small trading would lead to the big dream. How had I lied to myself about that?
How do I get the big dream while playing small? Hide, trade, negotiate my worth, my dream for the promise of today. But today never ends and the dream never grows as the chains wrap tightly around me, gilded cage waiting, this time a little nicer, a little golder, as though the shimmer will hide the decay.
I’ve learned in my quest to understand us, human beings, that we do things to be comfortable, to create intricate pathways to what feels safe, known, home. But home and safe are not always so, they are often false promises, fed to us by an exterior world that values security over dreams.
And when you’ve been alone, scared, out to sea for so long, the promise of comfort, of security, of ease can seem appealing and it’s often too late, when the door slams shut behind you, and you make due in the cage. Again.
A long time ago I realized I was playing small, safe, hiding myself in a world that I created inside of myself, a place I could escape – like all survivors we have a button, a place where no one and nothing can touch us. No matter what the reality is, we can always escape there.
A long time ago I figured out how good at lying to myself I was.
But never so deeply as I did this week. I had been lying to myself about lying to myself. I had a plan, I told myself. But the truth was I was trading my big dreams for small promises. I watered down for those on the sidelines and in the ditches.
See, I like to help people. But I often do that at a cost of myself. I forget that I’m not supposed to get in the ditch or get off my path to help others. I forget that breaking down into bit size pieces won’t actually change anything for them. All it will change is myself and what I do. And then I can’t help those who are ready and really need me.
As I’ve looked over the landscape of my life I see the same debris, different people, places, jobs, when they couldn’t see my worth, I changed it so I couldn’t see it either. When they didn’t see the value, I believed it wasn’t valuable. And I changed it to be of value to them, as if that would make it so.
But all I did was lose my own value.
When we change who we are and what we have to offer to people who cannot see it, we risk losing ourselves, every time.
As the awareness swam over me I was hit with both shame and anger. I wanted to be angry at someone else, but it was only myself that stood there. It would be easy to blame others, but the truth is, they’ll pick your bones if you let them. And I let them. Perhaps somewhere inside me I let them feast, draining my energy, robbing my vibes and that kept me from flying.
While all I thought about was flying.
Not realizing they had attached weights to my feet. I didn’t even see that the cage door swung shut, containing and trapping me inside, longing to feel the depth, the belief, the truth again in my soul, instead of fear. Fear kills more dreams than anything else. Fear makes us shrink. Fear makes us forget. Fear makes us hide. Fear makes us die inside as we pretend to climb.
Fear makes our dreams unreachable when we suffocate underneath it. Fear turns toxic inside of us and makes us break up who are, conform and change what we love, stop going after our dreams.
And it’s easy to blame someone else – they didn’t support me, they didn’t understand, they wouldn’t come, they didn’t show up, they promised but broke it, so WE shrink, instead of moving on.
The reality is we can’t force people to see our value. We can’t force people to support us.
What we can do is ask ourselves why we change to fit into places we don’t belong. We can soul search for the reason we eat at the kids table when we were supposed to be sitting at the head of the main table.
We can explore why we doubt ourselves, or why we see ourselves and our possibilities through the veil of someone else’s beliefs. For me, it’s about fear and telling myself that small steps lead to big places.
And that is sort of true, so it’s easy to fall for it. Because all great journeys have long roads, boulder filled paths and hardships. But if you have something that’s incredible and you have to break it down, those steps won’t lead to the big places. It’s more likely they’ll lead you right back to the cage from you were brave enough to leap.
And as I opened the cage door, this time realizing I carrying the key, I could let the sun shine on my face again as I expanded my wings and realized I didn’t have to break myself apart for those who couldn’t handle me. I didn’t have to water myself and what I do down, for those can’t handle my 100 proof, instead I could keep flying high and let those who want the same find me.
Don’t get in the trenches for those who will never see your worth. Instead, stand tall and proud, and let the right ones find you. There’s a big difference in giving of yourself and giving up yourself. It’s taken me several rounds to really get this message, lots of mistakes and lots of hiding. My wish is that you get it faster than I ever did.