Someone said something to me recently, that made me feel like I’m “too much”—over the top, too intense. This isn’t the first time I’ve felt like this. In fact, I’ve felt similar judgements ever since I was little girl. I was too loud, too silly, too messy, too emotional, too energetic—the list of “toos” was endless. I want to write about this because I think it is a big, BIG problem in our society.
Children are inherently large energies. They have seemingly unlimited life force propelling them through their day (except nap time of course). All they want to do is move, play, dance, sing, laugh, cry. They express exactly how they are feeling in each and every moment.
This amount of energy is a lot for a parent to handle. Each individual parent has different limits and varying levels of energy to meet their child’s needs. But more often than not, the child is taught to “rein it in”; sit still, be quiet, be polite, don’t say that, don’t touch that, smile, look pretty, stop crying, be tough.
It’s needless to say that boundaries are vital for a child, for if we all remained like children as adults not much would get done. The typical system the child goes through has the intention of taming them, so that they eventually grow into a functioning citizen of our society.
An unfortunate result of this domestication process is that it is essentially designed to break the spirit of the child. It sounds a little brutal when put like that, I know. However, we must be broken so that we fit the mould our parents deem appropriate and desirable, as a result of their own conditioning. No malice intended on their part, it’s simply the state of things.
The result of having my spirit “broken” at a young age, was finding myself as a young woman who had no self-esteem, who felt she didn’t measure up to anyone around her, who had no faith in herself, who had no authentic voice, who had no strength to stand up for herself, and who wanted more than anything, to be “normal” and “happy”. However, on my bad days I would’ve gladly taken “invisible” as a compromise.
I went through the schooling system and came out the other end having not the faintest idea of who I was, what I wanted to do with my life, or even how to function in a way that would bring me a sliver of happiness or joy.
I felt so small.
In a quest for a more satisfying life, I relentlessly observed the people around me. The girls at school who appeared to be having the most fun and be experiencing the most happiness were my logical starting point. These girls wore makeup, dyed their hair, broke the rules, defiled authority, had boyfriends, drank alcohol…you get the picture. Lo and behold, this became my model of behaviour for happiness.
Unfortunately, my pursuit of this path lead me into more destructive behaviours than positive, and only made me smaller.
Eventually, I adjusted my lens of observation to the people that looked like they were “succeeding” in life. They had university degrees, good paying nine-to-five jobs, a mortgage on an apartment, a new car, the latest Apple products, sunglasses that cost a couple of hundred dollars…you know. I set out to become one of these people, hoping to find some happiness there.
I became smaller again.
Every time I attempted to fit myself into a “box” that appeared to be working for the people surrounding me—a box my parents would be proud of, a box my peers would respect, a box with a big stamp of approval from the society I was born into—I made myself increasingly smaller than the person I now know I am.
Instead of bringing me the fulfilment and contentment I was desperately seeking, I felt disempowered, misunderstood, out of place, unsatisfied, depressed, and empty.
Those closest to me know that I am a naturally passionate person. When I’m interested in something I immerse myself from head to toe. When I speak about something close to my heart I speak with enthusiasm, excitement, and emotion. When I feel seen and appreciated for the person I really am, I grow as high as the sky and feel like I have wings upon which to soar.
It took me 25 years of life experience to realise that my quest towards happiness, fulfilment, and peace would come only when I fearlessly rejected the boxes of conformity I had tried, and failed, to fit myself inside.
I am a big person, not just in the physical sense. I have a big spirit, I have big dreams, and an even bigger heart. I endured suffering I wouldn’t wish on another as I tried my hardest to be enough, but the problem all along was that it wasn’t my definition of enough that I was blindly subscribing to. I had been reduced, constricted, limited, and shrunk so that I could be a functioning citizen, a cog in the machine, a consumer, a servant.
I was enslaved and I felt it to my core.
It is not my intention to condemn or criticise anyone else for their life choices, for I don’t know the size of their heart or soul in relation to the box they are aiming for. But the greatest life learning I am blessed to have discovered and wish to share with you, is that to be the happy, joyful, and ecstatic being of light that I know is my true nature, I have to let myself be as BIG, LOUD and INTENSE as I can imagine.
It makes absolutely no sense to shy away from your own potential. Being too passionate, too intense, too out there, too loud, too emotional, too wild, too outspoken…these are JUDGEMENTS made by people playing SMALL. So long as the source of your energy is coming straight from the heart and has the intention to change the world in a positive way, then be TOO BIG to do doing anything less.
I have recently taken a vow: no more boxes, no more limitations, no more SMART goals, no more judgements handed down to me from other people who haven’t the faintest idea of what I’m truly capable of. I can be whatever I can imagine, for form follows thought.
As Steve Jobs so aptly put it:
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
Be brave beautiful people. Listen to your heart and the voice inside that is desperate for your attention. If you are unhappy, make a change. Follow your bliss, it’s the single most accurate measure of what you were born to do. Speak authentically and trust your words are worthy. If you’ve read this far then it’s possible you are considering taking the leap. Reading this is your permission. It’s the sign you’ve been waiting for.
I jumped in the deep end not even six months ago, and life has already offered me unthinkable richness and possibility. I’ve found what I’ve been searching for all these years.
I found me.
Read more from Emily at her blog Back to Bliss
Image courtesy of Clear Wind Blows Over the Moon