Who are You Not to Be Fabulous?
Shine Baby, Shine!
Our perspective matters. It tells us how to respond to what we read, see on TV, or experience for ourselves. It’s how we interpret the stuff of life and it gives us a frame for how to be in this world.
Sometimes we fall into the trap of trying to get into someone else’s mind to know what they are thinking about the things we say and do. And we can be pretty clever at coming up with the answers and thinking we know for sure. We interpret someone’s expression, smile, comment, or silence and create a story out of that. We trick ourselves into believing that we know what they truly think and how they feel about us based on our analysis. We then draw conclusions as to what that will mean for our relationship with them going forward.
Quite often, we take our interpretation as truth and assume we know definitively how someone else views us. If this matters to us (and much of the time it does in some way), our feelings are influenced. We become happier or less so. We feel encouraged or begin to doubt ourselves. Or we can feel accepted or rejected.
But the thing is our interpretations are inherently flawed. Even if our surface explanation seems accurate, we go a step further and take this understanding and filter it through our frame of reference (formed by past experiences that are unique to us) and project a meaning that the other person hasn’t intended because their mental construct is different from ours.
I’m living a pretty extraordinary life. In moving to France at age 51 and starting anew, I’ve done something that six years ago I had never considered and that four years ago I didn’t believe was possible for me to do.
But here I am, doing it!
Marianne Williamson said in her famous Our Greatest Fear quotation, “We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?”
I’ve asked myself this “Who am I to be" question often in the past. And it still pops up for me from time to time, but much less so now, in large part because I have stopped caring so much about what others think of me. Now I do what I do based on what I’m being guided to do. I focus on how my actions support my core values and keep me integrity with myself. Even if what others think of me matters, having the understanding that my interpretation of how others view me is flawed makes it easier to be less attached to others’ judgments.
But doing what I feel called to do and honoring my values can be isolating. I’m only human. I want to belong and be accepted and loved. So it’s tempting to try to get into the minds of others and analyze how they might be judging me or my actions.
What does it mean when I don’t hear from friends or family for a long time? Does their silence signal they don’t care anymore? Or maybe they are bored with me? Does it say they no longer believe we have enough in common to be friends? Could what I’m doing create a sense of jealousy or even discomfort or fear in them? Or is our losing touch merely a function of the passage of time and the distance between us?
I don’t know, and while at times I can feel isolated, knowing what they think of me doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I’m honoring my integrity and following the path I’m led down. This is what feels right to me.
Marianne Williamson’s quote goes on to say “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.”
Are you shrinking or shining? Do you ask yourself, “Who am I to________ (fill in the blank)? Are you concerned with what others will think if you follow your heart’s desire?
Williamson wraps up her message by saying:
“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.”
I think we all shrink at some point in our lives. What has helped me to shine more is the realization that I’m going to die one day and when that time comes, I want to be ready to go, satisfied with how I lived my life. I don’t want to be filled with thoughts of “if only” or “I wonder what could have been.” Instead, I want to be filled with memories of a life well-lived. I want to know that in living my life as I am that I inspired others to honor their values and be true to self. I want others to feel free to shine because I was not afraid to.