I recently discovered an epidemic of mass proportions that targets only women. Not just any women, but strong, beautiful, talented women. This epidemic is known to keep you stagnant, living in fear, second-guessing yourself, doubting your ability, comparing yourself, and keeping your intense light from shining. This epidemic only attacks strong-willed women, women on top, women who are intelligent, women who are go-getters, women who know exactly what they want. What is this serious illness you ask? It is something that needs to be eradicated NOW!
Playing yourself small. Yes, you read that right. When YOU, not others, are the obstacle who holds you back from being all of your fabulous self.
If you are currently suffering from this, STOP what you are doing and READ on sister.
Playing yourself small is a toxic epidemic that plagues millions of women. There are many forms of mutation of this epidemic. It can easily transform itself into making you believe that you are less than, that you don’t deserve that seat at the table, that you are not smart enough, that you need more education, that you do not meet the qualifications, that it’s only for certain types of people, that you are just simply not good enough.
Have you suffered from this?
Does your head get filled with thoughts of self-doubt?
At one point or another, we have all experienced borrowed confidence. This is when someone else sees your infinite potential but you don’t. Early in my career, I was approached by a senior manager to apply for a position that I did not feel that I was fully qualified for. I did not see myself in that light of having a more prominent role in the company, touching shoulders with the big wigs, being part of daily operational decisions, taking a seat in the nice conference room, going to fancy dinners. Why… that could never be me. Could it?
I would compare myself to the ones that were already in this circle. I did not drive a fancy car like them; my car had barely made it to work. In fact, at that point in my life, my kids’ Christmas toys were from a local charity just like our Thanksgiving turkey. I had put myself through college knowing nothing more than a Ramen Noodle life. In navigating through my career, I ended up applying for the position and have been in that role for the past 8 years and absolutely love it. This was an opportunity that could have very easily been missed because of my own insecurities and fears. Like my example, I am sure that you can think of many times when someone saw something in you that you did not see in yourself.
After finally being in my dream job, dream company, dream position, I was still plagued by the sense of not fitting in. I was never privileged by any means unlike most in that circle. I came from a broken home, with little to nothing to give, and rose from my own perseverance. I was stuck in an average mentality. A mentality that had somehow or another been instilled in me by surroundings. I never saw prominent women in my life go to a corporate job and claim their throne. I never knew women of impact or authority, outside of my beautiful mother. I did not know that women were capable of making an impact.
For years, I continued to strive to be better. I would go into work early and leave late. I would try and learn, observe, and ask as many questions as I could. I would Google, YouTube, and research subjects all the time. I would read my company’s training manuals over and over. I would overprepare for meetings. I would take all the training materials and highlight them to death. I would take as many notes as I could and then be like, “What the heck did I write?” I was eager to be the absolute best at my craft. I tirelessly worked to try and reach a level that I thought I was not at. I did not realize that my light had already been shining brighter than I could have ever imagined. Why could I not see that? Maybe it was the brand new Prada sunglasses in my new Equinox back in 2011 that was blocking me from seeing my intense light!
Why… I had just purchased a new car without a cosigner. Major win here! I had just graduated as a Chemical Engineer a few years before. I was just good at math, not science. I had just built my dream house. I just helped my mom pay off her house. I just kept undervaluing my worth.
How many times do you “JUST”?
Oh, I just woke up at 5 am, did two loads of laundry, went to work, saved the company $2 million dollars, came home, made dinner, helped kids with homework, paid bills, read them a book, and went to sleep. My GAWD, sis. The only thing missing was rescuing a cat from a tree. So many times, we undervalue our worth. We don’t see the impact that we make in people’s lives and in everyday situations. We don’t see how our light brightens up someone’s day.
The day I finally made it to the big conference room, with the leather chairs, and the magic presentation board, I shrunk. I walked in and sat in the outer chairs and not in the ones around the table. I did not even realize what I had done until a manager said, “You need to take a seat around the table.” I did not feel worthy, equipped, or intelligent enough. I did not realize that all my accomplishments had paved the way for my seat at the table. I struggled with my own insecurities for a long time.
The day I finally realized my infinite power and my immense light, the world looked a whole lot better. It took a major mindset shift to realize that the person that I am today is fully equipped to handle anything without falling apart. I realized that I was not going to let anyone or anything take control of my power ever again. That my limiting beliefs were just distractions. Be mindful of your light.
It is time that we started to BELIEVE in ourselves, in our capabilities, in our talents. We are all uniquely made and possess a set of talents that are needed in the world. The world needs you, your talents, your charisma, your light. Recognize when you are being triggered by limiting beliefs. Know when the gremlins in your head are filling you with a false perception of yourself. Then crush them and shine brighter so they can’t find you.
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