To stand up and shine is a tall order.
This is not only due to our personal fears… we are bound by ages-old scar tissue in the collective unconscious, bruised from centuries of stooping for survival; from being forced to choose bodily safety and facaded community over wild soul life.
For generations, we have all suppressed our magic. We have become accustomed to breathing less oxygen, taking up less space, being reduced to outward appearances and bank accounts.
As bravely naked as I may seem, I struggle with owning my gifts because there is a fine line between humility and shame; a hazy line that’s smudged like morning-after eyes.
Today it occurred to me that humility and shame are two sides of the same coin.
To be humble is defined as “having a low or modest opinion of one’s own importance.” A low opinion of one’s own importance?
Yes, of course! Why would we ever want to fully value ourselves? Who are YOU to say that you are someone that matters?
We are told over and over again that being humble is one of the most well-regarded traits a person can model. It is a huge compliment to be labeled as modest.
Humble and modest? Aaaaahhhhhhhhh. My inner good girl basks in the warm firelight of these approachable
Arrogance on the other hand, makes me queasy. Arrogance is having an inflated sense of self worth (inflated according to whom, I wonder)…
It is arrogant to toot your own horn, to declare that you have something important to say… to stake a claim in your worth.
But, ultimately self worth is a value judgement. Worth is subjective.
I think the reason we have such a strong distaste for arrogance is because we believe that there is a scarcity of greatness in this world.
If one person thinks they are magnificent, then there is that much less awesome available to me. We are ashamed of ourselves, and so we shame those who are braver than us. We label, we separate, we gossip, and we poison ourselves.
Yes, egoic & greedy behavior can sometimes accompany what we perceive as arrogance. But arrogance and greed only go hand in hand when self-respect gets determined by external things; when “successes” like money, looks, or fame become the evidence that we matter.
When I think about shame and arrogance, it makes my blood boil.
I am outraged, for myself and for everyone who has shrunk themselves in order to stay “humble”.
I remember how my husband’s naked enthusiasm disrobes my shame body sometimes.
At a recent party, I felt my pulse quicken as his voice rose, passionate words streaming from his mouth like streaks of green lightning.
My eyes darted around the room, watching for signs of disconnection, judgement, or dismissal. I waited for others to deem him “too much” and slowly disengage from his intensity. My stomach dropped, my shoulders slouched, and I felt myself shrinking in his light.
At six foot six, he stands tall whether he intends to or not. Just the fact of his existence is imposing! And though he rarely comprehends the power of his presence, he is usually unapologetically impassioned.
He is a Tiger, through and through.
He’ll also readily turn the spotlight on me, glowing as he talks proudly about who I am, about my work, about our son. He encourages me to join him in his exposed enthusiasm, to unveil my greatness and add my own lightning to the storm.
In the past, I have hidden behind a velvety black cloak of humility. Shame will whisper that we can’t both be brilliantly blazing, or we’ll blow the neurocircuits of everyone in the room.
Shame tells me to stand aside.
“Don’t be arrogant.”
I compensate for his expansion with my contraction. I drink her drug of small silence and
Later, I wonder why I allow this to happen.
Yes, I am magnificent at creating space for other people’s enthusiasm. But my own wonderful being deserves a place at the table too… And I almost never give myself a seat.
Standing in my power unashamedly means letting go of being humble and risking being called arrogant.
It means pushing through scars of punishment and retribution. It means forming newly resilient skin; skin that is proudly wrinkled by experience, flushed with passion. It means chin high, heart out.
It means daring to claim the oxygen our lungs crave.
We can be greatFULL and grateful, no matter what anyone else thinks about our motives and our worth. Greatness is not awarded to us by our witnesses.
Just like you, I am gifted in certain ways. And just like you, it’s time for my gifts to shine.
I am a woman who loves wildness. I am beautiful, ferocious, tenacious, compassionate, empathetic, and intuitive.
I am someone to whom the animals speak. They talk to me through the people I encounter, in whom I can clearly see wooly, feathered, taloned, ferocious, seductive, meek, musky wilderness. I see inner creatures who are hungry to be unleashed. I unclip the collar, open the cages, and set free people’s inner animal self.
In less than 5 months and with almost no promotion, I have been honored to serve a wild totemic unfolding in almost 500 people. I am still almost embarrassed to share this; it feels prideful.
Yet, I AM proud to have crafted a business that is insanely fun, creative, and keeps me connected to inner and outer nature. My totemic arts apprentices make me weep with love on a weekly basis. I watch them becoming so brave, so ALIVE; making huge shifts in their psychic and physical landscapes. They fill me with awe, they inspire me… Through animal eyes, they are finally seeing themselves.
So, it’s time to stop apologizing with my posture, with my silence. It’s time for me to stand as tall as my Tiger.
It’s time for ALL of us to own our gifts.
To paraphrase Steve Jobs, those who are crazy enough to believe that they can change the world are the only ones that can.
I have a PLAYwork assignment for you (yes… YOU that is reading these words).
You are to fully admit something amazing about yourself.
You can admit it to me here, you can share it with a friend, you can write it in a letter that no one will read. You can look at yourself in the mirror and say it aloud. You can post it on social media and tag it #forbiddengifts… No matter what form it takes, I want your light to join mine.
I think about all the ways I have hidden in plain sight, and they are many.
But, the scarcity of self-celebration ends now, starting with us.