“Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.”
Let that sink in. What does that say to you? This is a call to action. This statement is asking for you to recognize yourself in these moments and put an end to the madness that is you diminishing your light to make other’s feel greater in your presence.
This is an excerpt from a Marianne Williamson quote that was made famous (or at least made known to me) from the movie Coach Carter. The full quote below pulls at my heart strings as it opens up a new perspective for me, I’ll elaborate… but first, read this in its entirety:
“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.” ― Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”
Think about this.
How often do you see someone with their light shining and their passion beaming from their soul and you feel compelled to let your light shine as well? So why is it that we so often cut down our own accomplishments or milestones in comparison to others? We already know that comparison is the thief of joy, so why do we preface our own good news and announcements with degradation?
“I know it may not be much to some…”
“I still have a long way to go…”
“It may not be as impressive as most…”
“This isn’t my best…”
“I’m the last of my friends to get to this point…”
I can tell you right now that none of us do this in an attempt to save our own ego. In fact, it’s almost as if we do it to show others that we are aware that their accomplishments are biggest, better, and just all-around “more” than ours.
But… Who decides this?
This is a decision you make on your own. This is something only you can decide.
You can stand proudly behind all of your accomplishments, little milestones, and big dreams and you do not have to justify that to the world. You can simply be happy. You can simply be proud. It does not have to be conditional.
With social media, i.e. Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube being the prime hot spots to tell the world about what awesome goal was just met, I have seen more and more people contribute to this over-arching trend of “let’s downplay this so people realize I know it’s not that great”.
Excuse me? But your goal was met! Your milestone was reached. That is more than enough cause for celebration! People have allowed comparison to slip into their lives and strip them of the happiness and pridefulness that they are more than worthy of having. It needs to stop.
Don’t get it twisted though… I am guilty of this, too! And many of the “fitspo” accounts that I follow are also complicit in the “let-me-preface-this-with-some-derogatory-phrase-before-i-pat-myself-on-the-back” posts.
I cannot tell you how many times during a competition prep I have posted a picture that I am proud of but have started the Instagram caption with, “I’m no where close to where I want to be yet” or “I’m not near as lean as most bikini competitors” (ahem, picture above is a perfect example) instead of just flat out posting the picture and saying “Hey, this is me and I’m happy with my current shape and I am happy with who I am as a person and that is enough for me to post this picture whether you like it or not.”
I think the fitness industry, especially the younger women who have amassed hundreds of thousands of followers, need to realize that they have a hand in this. I think they need to understand that there is a vast age range in their social media following. These women have young girls, who are already so torn and confused about body image (thanks to societal norms and the media) who look up to them. And yet, here they are posting progress pictures saying “I know I’m not lean anymore, but…” when in reality they are walking around with quad separation, obliques popping, and baby abs showing. If you are lean enough for abs and veins to be popping, you surely do not need to preface any post with any statement regarding your lack of leanness.
In my hopes that we, as an industry, can start to do better, I am pledging to stop “justifying” my posts with comments that may be condescending to my own progress or accomplishments.
As Marianne says, it does not serve the world for me to play small. It does not serve the greater good of this fitness industry for the women who have a voice to reduce their own accomplishments in comparison to other people’s journeys either, whether it be body progress, career progress, or anything else.
We are all complicit in this. We have all, at one time or another, minimized our own achievements because we see our path as less than or inferior to someone else’s. It is as if we are telling the world that we know we do not deserve that greatness or we do not have that greatness within us, or at least not to the degree that other people have greatness in them.
You have a responsibility… Starting today, promise me that you will no longer dim your own light. Be proud of who you are and how far you have come. Your journey is yours and yours alone. You have every right to celebrate the littlest win or the biggest feat. You are worthy of proudly displaying any and all accomplishments.
“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.”