Saturday, September 8, 2012

Squinting Up at the Arena (OOTD)

A. A. Milne once wrote, “If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together... there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

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? 


Dress: Polka Dot Tie-Neck Dress, J. Crew (similar herehere, and here)


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.”

18 comments:

  1. I consider it a great strength to enjoy the journey-without anticipating or planning the result. Keep moving forward and I have no doubt you will be delighted by the destination. And, when in doubt - look into the eyes of your children where you will find that you are not small or easily defeated - but a super hero.

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    1. Thanks Julie for the great insight and reminder. :)

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  2. I've had that T. Roosevelt quote on my desk since high school. It's my favorite. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. We all struggle with the disconnect between what we know we are capable of and what we have come to expect of ourselves vs the reality of our lives and the things in life that hold us back. It's not easy being a woman these days!

    -MC @ momcatdiaries.blogspot.com

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  3. Sometimes I will catch my breath at one of my children and think how wonderful and amazing and limitless they are...and sometimes it hits me that my own mother looked/looks at me with this same scope...

    Your post also makes me think of a song I love that speaks to God's love "You make everything glorious. What does that make me?"

    We are brave, strong, smart and if not to ourselves all the time it's nice to know that good ole mom and God believe it every single second of the day ;)

    Really enjoyed reading your thoughts Carol!

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    1. Thanks, Jan! And you're so right about how we see our children - and what our own mothers and God must know about us. :D That's really lovely.

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  4. you. are. so. cool.

    great dress too- work it sistah!

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    1. Thanks, Sasa! :D (You're cool too!)

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  5. love this dress on you Carol!!

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  6. I love this TR quote...did you know they make the plebes (freshmen) at the Naval Academy memorize it? Such a great thing to have in the back of your mind at all times. (Also, it made for a great LOL when Miley Cyrus got part of it tattooed on her forearm.)

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  7. Fabulous post (and fabulous dress:). Thank you!

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  8. You are such a smart and inspiring woman and I love that your blog is always more than just clothes (though the clothes are always stellar, I must say). You look gorgeous but even more so, you're a beautiful person who writes and means well. Too often women are socialized to diminish our accomplishments and I think that's part of why there's a gender gap in impostor syndrome. I found myself nodding furiously while reading your thoughts above.

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  9. this is so cute on you! may I ask what size you are wearing? I'm trying to purchase it online and some reference would be very helpful!

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    1. Hi Isabel, I'm wearing this dress in a size 0. Hope that helps!

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