“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?”
– Marianne Williamson, Return to Love
This is a favourite quote of a ‘sister’ of mine. And it is one I have had to sit with for a long time before it felt even remotely comfortable. But a week ago, it was brought back to me. It was brought back to me by a colleague breaking down at work. And this colleague defines their being by a single, solitary word: resilience.
Resilience is a familiar philosophy to me, it’s one I tried to embody for a very long time. I defined myself by the most challenging moments of my life so far and the fact that they hadn’t made me hard. Ironically, every time I defined myself as such, the walls went higher and the heart atrophied; I did indeed get harder. Resilience is a quality but it should never be the foundation of self. Because then you position yourself to battle your whole life: fight for love, fight to survive, push against obstacles and resist against flow. There is something seductive about it, there is power in it. But it’s also turning your self-definition into the hands of everyone else that is. And it renders you purely reactive on your own life path.
This colleague, through their tears, then said someone had told her that the reason why they were struggling so hard at the minute is because they were afraid to shine. And I suddenly remembered the quote. Because in that moment, I looked into a face that showed fear. Fear that all they had endured was because they were too scared to step into their own light, to do their own thing, to value themselves enough to find ways to succeed in their own way.
There is a safety net in believing you are less than. It’s a mercy to not always have to dare to be great. It’s a more gentle ride to be in shadow, less happy but without such a sense of responsibility. It’s easy to be ‘good’ by accepting compromise into our lives as if there is limit to how many things can go your way. I know how deeply it’s saturated into my thinking, because even writing this post makes me uncomfortable.
But the more I journey and the more I look, the more the quote finally makes sense. We were not born to be in shadow, or dark. That’s why it feels so awful to reside there as we do sometimes. We want to be the very best that we can be, but we look to others to get us there, or at least to give permission. We have been told that success may change us, warp is or take us off track. Fame can do that, but this isn’t about fame. This is about being glorious in your own skin, at home in your own unique offering. We were born to do our thing, to find our path and to shine. You only have to look at someone radiating happiness, to feel the envy at watching someone chase their dream, to know that that’s the truth. There is a freedom in the energy of someone who dares to see themselves as brilliant. There is a generosity in their authenticity. And there is a spirit that is seductive beyond belief.
I don’t know how, but I will find my way into that light. Not to be selfish but to be the best I can be for the people who have invested their faith and love in me all these years. One day I will make no apology for being independent, passionate, unrelentingly optimistic, driven to help people. Today I take one step closer to learning all my strengths, going back to dancing, singing out loud, laughing in true abandon, scouring the earth alone sometimes/ in company others. I will be better at speaking my truth and not absorbing others agendas. I will be compassionate but I will not allow others to encroach on my wellbeing with their discontent. I will be gentle in my strength and strong in my vulnerability. I want to get there and I will be happy beyond belief to see those I love the most do the same. Because I don’t know how that can’t make our own worlds just that much better to live in each day.