Have you ever been told you are too much of something?
I’ve been told this my entire life.
You are too loud. Too talkative. Too bossy. Too bold. Too smart. Too honest. Too intimidating. Too committed. Too energetic. Too passionate. Too serious. Too busy.
I was a lot of too many things.
I don’t recall any insecurities prior to around the eighth grade. That was really the turning point when my “too muchness” started costing me opportunities and relationships. Prior to that, my parents had managed to prop me up with an incredible amount of confidence.
When I was the fattest kid in my class in the fifth grade and someone didn’t like me, my mother told me it was because I was too pretty and they were jealous of me. Part of me knew it sounded ludicrous, but part of me also thought there was a chance it could be true, so I just kept on strutting along.
As middle school, high school, and entering the workforce as a strong female will do, comments wore me down. Rarely were they one thing said by one person. It was the subtle messaging here and there. It was much more comparable to trimming with a nail file rather than a fingernail clipper. Bit my bit, my spirit was worn down by believing a story that if I were to be successful, I needed to conform to the energy in the room.
Have you heard the reference, “when you stay silent to keep the peace, you start a war within yourself.” That was me.
I spent much of my twenties at war with myself. I was in a constant battle of trying to figure out what the world wanted from me, how I truly wanted to show up, and what relationships I was willing to lose if my brightness was too blinding.
There are two catalyst moments that occurred closely together that allowed me to see just how far I had allowed myself to shrink.
One was driving down the road listening to the audiobook version of The Big Leap. (I wrote about the principles from that book in this post). Tears streamed down my face so uncontrollably I had to pull over to safely drive. When I learned what the “fear of outshining” was, I realized exactly why I had stepped back from the A+ version of myself, to preferring a B or second place in absolutely everything I did. God forbid I make someone around me feel uncomfortable.
The second moment was a conversation on the couch with my husband. As calm and reserved of a man he is, when I said, “I just have to keep this part of myself hidden because it’s not worth the disruption,” he literally exploded. I have never seen him that angry, to this day. He was furious that I would settle for hiding myself from the world to maintain a balance of relationship that wasn’t serving me.
Shortly after, I started showing up more as myself. I pinned to my bathroom mirror the quote from Brene Brown, “Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.” It is still there today.
As I showed up in rooms, spaces, and online as my authentic self, people became uncomfortable. I wasn’t wrong in my assumption.
Online, I’ve been unfriended and unfollowed.
In real life, I’ve watched people distance themselves from me. I’ve noticed the invitations that didn’t come my way anymore. Once, I even watched from a buffet line as someone started to sit at my table and then go find a new seat when they realized that was my purse.
But do you know what else has happened?
Like a magnet, new people have come into my life. I have added some incredible friendships to my world.
For every one of the people I’ve lost, I’ve gained people who beam with excitement when I walk in a room because they’ve been waiting to tell me something. I have people sliding into my DMs and messenger who feel like I’m one of the only safe spaces for them to discuss something. And I have people hiring me as their coach because they know I am someone who can be trusted.
Although those are great benefits, they pale in comparison to the peace that comes from knowing I am right where I belong. There is a joy unspeakable that occurs when we are living in our integrity. When we decide to love our story, love our past, love our strengths, embrace our weaknesses and thrive anyway…it’s priceless.
I am raising a daughter. Since she was born I have guarded her from conformity. Every comment she brings home with how things “should” be, I override with choice. I allow her to show up as her full self. I find another room to step in to laugh when I find it hysterical. Like today, she proudly left for her third day of second grade wearing sparkling Minnie Mouse ears and felt gorgeous.
I will spend the rest of my life guarding spaces for people to show up without judgement from me. I will make sure that all the people who have been handed a story of being “too much” for this world in one way or another will know they are safe to let their guards down when they are around me.
May you always be too much of yourself.
Sophia Hyde is a certified coach who specializes in helping busy people release their favorite selves. She teaches a 10-week course that accompanies 20-minute coaching sessions to lead people through the process of defining what that looks like in their own lives. If you would like to schedule a complimentary strategy session to see if coaching is right for you, click here.