For years, I was told I was “too intense” and that I should “tone it down a notch” and other similar statements from people who were uncomfortable with me being me. I am loud, animated. I talk with my hands. I have been asked, more than a few times, if I am Italian or grew up in an Italian area (no to both of those). I get louder when I get excited, frustrated, insert any high energy emotion here. It is too much for some people.
I. Am too much for some people.
I am too honest, too blunt, too curt, too quick to express my emotion. I communicate things that are “supposed” to be held close. I “wear my heart on my sleeve.” I share my “secrets.” Those things that are supposed to be embarrassing. I hurt and get hurt. For most of my life and with most people, I have been okay with this. Even when it has cost me promotions, raises, new jobs, friends, lovers, and more. I have been okay losing people. I have been okay with the hurt. I have been okay with the price of truth.
Honesty has always been one of my key values. I will not look you in the face and lie to you. Not if you are my friend and not if you are an executive where I work and not if you’re a total stranger. I will tell you the truth as best I know it. And I will own it if I find out later that what I once knew as truth was not actually true. I am one of therose people who will actually answer the question you ask, whether you want the real answer or not. Please don’t ask me if those pants make you look fat. If they do, I will tell you they do. And I will forget to say it with pleasantries such as “maybe these would be more flattering?”
I have been told to ‘dumb it down’ and ‘take the edge off’ and ‘sugar coat it’ … I don’t really know how to do these things. But I tried. I tried hard for a long time. Failed miserably sometimes. Many times.
When I was a pre-teen, trying to short cut and half ass my chores the way kids do, my mother would tell me “character is who you are when no one is looking.” She would ask me If I wanted to be the person whose sheets were a crumpled mess under the cover? The person who had just wiped the dirty spots when I had committed to mopping the whole floor?
As I have gotten older, I have come to realize that what she was really asking me was if I wanted to be the person who was hollow inside because I had built a shell but not a foundation? These days, the question would sound something closer to “do you want to live in alignment to your truth?” And the answer would be yes. Yes. I want to live in alignment with my truth. And my truth does not include any version of dumbing myself down so that you feel more comfortable in my presence. I know a lot about many topics and I know where to go, who to ask, about many more. I will no longer reduce myself for those who have chosen not to acquire this skill, this curiosity, for themselves.
I like that I am too much for some people.
I am perfect for my people. And they are perfect for me. Even when they tell me my butt looks fat in my jeans.
I would like to share with you one of my all time favorite passages, from Marianne Williamson’s book, A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course In Miracles.”
“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.”
What will you do TODAY to let your light shine?