It's true. We are all braver than we believe, stronger than we seem, and smarter than we think. It's just not something we're always conscious of. In fact, even for those of us who have an inkling of what it means to believe we're brave, strong, and smart, it's not something we're always willing to claim. Which is a funny thing when you consider that we're always being encouraged to identify and sell to others how special we are. That's essentially how you become a success, right? Find your strengths, leverage them, and demonstrate your value - to your community, your customers, and the public at large.
The fact is, our world and our lives have conditioned us to think that should we dare to truly embody the fullness of our courage, our strength, our intelligence - our own unique Greatness - for every moment of our lives, we will be disdained for our arrogance, our conceit, and our hubris.
So instead, we tuck away our enormous, amazing, possible Selves, and adopt these other personas. You know - the ones that are socially acceptable and even lauded in their own way. The ones where we are agreeable, decorous, decorative, fun, witty, and capable - but diminished.
As women and girls, it's so easy to slip into these lesser versions of our Selves and while away the years. But the truth is, deep inside each of us are extraordinary Women. Women who are braver than we believe, stronger than we seem, and smarter than we think. Women who are able to be simultaneously sovereign and loving. Most of us have glimpsed her - the Self that breathes within us, whose Greatness both thrills and terrifies us. Some of us can even summon her from time to time, when certain circumstances or situations seem to call for it. So very few of us are able to embody her always, as she deserves to be and should be embodied.
Why is it so very scary to imagine that we might be everything we ever needed?
The thing is, when I'm running on the hamster wheel of life - moving from task to task, moment to moment, without much time for thought or breath, I'm fairly oblivious. There's no place on my list of to-do's for reflection or even much doubt. Ironically, it's in the moments when I make myself be still and silent, and then ask if there isn't more to my Self than this - it's not until I begin stretching for that more powerful, intentional version of Me, that I am assailed with the apprehension that I am really just small, easily defeated, and trivial.
The truth, of course, is only that I am afraid. It's the paradox of me - on the one hand, I am just dying to see what I am made of and on the other, I am quite certain I already know and that I'm not going to like it.
I've got to admit, it's going to take me some time to work myself up to it - stepping into my Self and really daring greatly. Until then, there's nothing like a pretty dress and some Teddy Roosevelt (slightly modified to make it more inclusive) to get me into the right frame of mind:
“It is not the critic who counts: not the [one] who points out how the strong [person] stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the [one] who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends him [or her]self for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he [or she] fails, at least he [or she] fails while daring greatly, so that his [or her] place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”