There’s this guy I know; you may know him too. People look to him for advice all the time; they like him and like being around him. He doesn’t try too hard, he is just himself – at least on the outside. On the inside, he’s a ball of emotions some days. He looks like he’s calm and in control, because that’s what he wants you to see. The last thing he wants to share is how he really feels.

In a similar vein, there’s this lady I know; you may know her too. She’s smart, tough, and strong. But sometimes she makes herself less than she can be. She goes into a shell, gets quiet and doesn’t believe that she’s worthy. Some days she feels like she doesn’t deserve attention, or respect, or help.

That really bothers me, because she is amazing. She’s come far, changed so much about herself that she didn’t like – physically and mentally. Still, she holds herself back sometimes. You may know these two – hell the truth is you may be them, at least a little bit. Why do we do this to ourselves?

Take Up Space

Recently I saw someone talking about “taking up space”. It really got me thinking about how we make ourselves smaller to suit other people’s ideas about who we should be.

This is ingrained in us from a young age. “Don’t act like that.” “Be like everyone else.”

Really, though, if those people really care about and want to be around us, they should encourage us to be big and bold and loud and live fully – shouldn’t they?

I was checking in with one of my Favorite Humans last week – we’ll call them FH. (We all have an FH or two, I think.) The response was “Hi.” Just “Hi.” I knew right away something was wrong; usually, FH is open, talkative, and funny.

Why were they feeling, and therefore acting, small? It turned out to be well beyond my powers to fix. That didn’t matter though; FH appreciated my asking and listening. Talking it through led them to an action plan, and let them know they mattered.

I’ve been working on this – not just asking the question but really listening to the answer. We are quick to jump in with a supportive “oh, yeah, the other day I…” that brings the focus to ourselves. Yes, you can support your friend by sharing your experience – but trumping what they are saying doesn’t help.

The next time I spoke to FH, they were back to themselves. They just needed a reminder of how awesome they really are. So here’s your reminder, friends. Don’t be timid and accept what others give you. Live LOUD and make noise! Don’t just say “Hi.” Let them know you are here, dammit! You deserve all the space you want.

Photo by Tyler Lastovich on Unsplash