For most of my life, I have allowed my limiting beliefs to control my narrative. The thoughts of not being smart enough, fast enough, skinny enough, articulate enough, strong enough, lucky enough, tall enough, or experienced enough have controlled my life for too long. To be completely honest, if limiting beliefs were a cancer, I would have been stage 4.
By allowing those limiting beliefs to take over, we allow for people to play us small because we cannot see ourselves in the light we truly belong in. How many times have you been played small? Being played small can manifest itself in many ways. For example, when you don’t get the promotion you deserve, when your recommendations are discounted, or when you have to constantly prove yourself while someone else just shows up and is given special treatment. It can be subtle where you don’t know it’s happening or it can be blatant and known to everyone.
Working in an industry where women make up less than 10% of the workforce, it’s no surprise that the first thing people see when I walk in is a young girl in lipstick. Their first impression most think of me is that I am fragile, weak, soft-spoken, and inexperienced. I am immediately judged based upon other’s perceptions of women who wear lipstick and love fashion instead of based upon my merit. Preconceived notions of me are planted without me having even said a word. While others are invited to the table with open arms, I have to prove my worth before sitting at the table. Can you relate?
Women in male-dominated fields get “played small” all the time. It doesn’t help that we see ourselves as not being the best of the best. Without doubting ourselves, we have men who question our thoughts and decisions. I see this happening to women in industry, corporations, television, and just about everywhere. Our education, degrees, certificates, experience, nor accolades matter when you’re a woman. We must work twice as hard to prove ourselves and our capabilities to others. This means over-preparing, staying late, delivering more than requested, doing more than your counterparts. Women are often treated differently. It is difficult to make the best of the playing field when it is so uneven. Look around, there are not many women in high leadership positions at many companies. It’s time to change this and show up for ourselves in a way that we no longer allow others to play us small.
At the Fab & Fearless Speaker event in March, Liza Wisner shared with us that we MUST be women of IMPACT. She reminded us that women before us fought for us to have the rights and responsibilities we have today. She told us that when we put our shoes on each morning, we need to remember we are sitting on the shoulders of GIANTS. This has stuck with me. This is how we pave the path for the generations of women behind us who are looking to us for examples of who they should become.
Since that event, I have been shook. My world and how I show up within it changed that day. I can’t help but ask myself every day, “How dare I not become something? How dare I not take advantage of all the woman in my life have done to pave the way for me? How dare I not keep building off the foundation my mother and generations of women before her built for me? How dare I?” I have had Liza in my head each morning reminding me to get out of bed like a boxer preparing to go into the ring, to fight a battle, to win. I have not been a victim, but a victor, and because of this no one has been able to play me small. I dare say that no one has even tried because I now present myself differently.
Sis, we need to stop backing down from opportunities to use our voices and speak with confidence. Sheryl Sandburg told us a few years ago to lean in. I am saying that it’s time to grow some balls and show them you’re ready when they come for you. It is time to show our male counterparts that our lack of testicles does not equal a lack of intelligence, strong strategies, and powerful conversation. It is time to use the voices that we were given, the minds we have educated, and the confidence our sisters have instilled within us for years. It’s time to raise up a new generation of women who empower one another and live in ways that future generations will look back upon with thankfulness for the things we did to help them rise higher. In the future, we will be the shoulders they are resting upon.
The main reason that people will play you small is for their personal gain. This is why it’s so important to constantly be teaching people how to treat you. Remember this sis. Learn to exude dominance. This is so important because people will try to measure you up. You think they will come for you if they know it’s a battle that they aren’t going to win. Only the strong survive, you must stick up for yourself. Be a force that cannot be reckoned with. When they try to come at you, let them know, “Not today!”
People will try to shine at your expense; remind them who you are. People will try to smooch off you; remind them who you are. People will try and take advantage of you; remind them who you are. People will try to walk all over you; remind them who you are. Do not let your guard down. Pay attention to patterns, the way they talk to you, the things they ask you to do. You will get played small for as long as you allow it. Recognize that your value is so much more than your job and paycheck. Have to courage to put yourself in places where your value and strengths are recognized. Allow yourself to take risks, to fail, to be in situations where you could be played small.
When you recognize your value and all that you bring to the table, the game changes. You become equipped with the tools that you need to go to battle. You possess the security, the reassurance, the faith in yourself that you need to succeed. Your light will shine differently. You’ll realize that you are a press conference, not a conversation (Thank you, Mariah Carey!). You are of infinite worth and value. Go out there, prepare for the battles and victories. Your future self will thank you.
P.S. For those who need a reminder of the confidence you should walk around with, let’s listen to it from the Queen of confidence herself, Mariah Carey as told to us in Obsessed.
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