There is nothing enlightening about shrinking

Amanda Sugden

Posted on November 16 2019

anxiety judgement oppression

 

My kids love to dress up. The more mismatched, loud and bold it is… the better- and I absolutely love it! I encourage them to dress however they want (except for the argument we had about never wearing a jumper- because Disney princesses don’t feel the cold) and to feel happy and proud about their choice. When people shake their head and say, “Did they dress themselves today?” I say yes as if it is the proudest moment of my life…because in a way it is.

 

I am so proud that my girls have the confidence to wear a mermaid tail to Coles, dress up like a bumblebee with boots on, or wear a Halloween costume in January. They don’t care about what everyone else thinks or if they are following “the dress code rules.” They wear what makes them feel happy and feel fabulous.

 

I not only feel proud, but I’m a bit in awe of their attitude to tell the truth, because deep down I want to feel like that too.

 

For most of my life I was really shy and lacked confidence. I used to go through this anxious thought process every morning before getting dressed; I would worry about what everyone else would think, would this be “approved of,” is it too nice, will I stand out or be judged? Then I would consciously choose clothes that would allow me to blend into the crowd. I didn’t want to stand out or draw attention to myself in any way. So I usually wore a plain coloured T-shirt and shorts or jeans. Definitely no patterns or bright colours that might make me stand out! It was decades of hiding and trying to blend in- wearing bland clothes, not making an effort with hair or make up because then I would be “showing off,” never wearing high heel shoes- because I might stand out with my height.

 

When I was younger, I had people who would throw judgement at me-

“Who are you dressing up for?”

“Who are you trying to impress?”

“You think you look SO good in that dress don’t you?”

“You can’t wear that to the park!”

“You can’t wear green and blue together.”

“Yellow looks terrible on you. It’s definitely not your colour.”

 

The thing that made me come out of hiding were my daughters. Seeing their confidence made me want to feel that happy and free too. I wanted to feel good about myself and make everyday flipping fantastic-not hide and hope that nobody noticed me! I gifted all of the clothes that didn’t make me feel like a million dollars to charity. They don’t have to cost a million dollars- but when I wear them I need to feel awesome. Tallulah wears the same dress to jump on the trampoline and play in the sandpit as she did to her kindy graduation. Whatever floats her boat!

 

I’m still learning from my very wise kids every day. After so long “in hiding” I’m still getting comfortable at being “seen” and accepting compliments from others. I still have those days when I slip into doubt and judgement- but I know that me playing small isn’t going to change the world. We all have a purpose, a gift to bring to this world, and if more of us let our light shine- then we will give permission to others to do the same. How awesome is that?  

 

A few years ago I stumbled across the following words and it changed my life. If you haven’t seen it before I hope it changes yours too, and if you have seen it- what a glorious reminder.

 

“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? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightening about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. It is not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our 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

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