But Who Am I?
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
~Marianne Williamson, A Return To Love
These mystical words have been gestating inside my heart ever since I first read them over fifteen years ago. I was in graduate school at the time, simultaneously working at a sexual assault crisis center in the heart of downtown New Britain, CT. I was always looking online for quotes that would inspire my clients and, let’s be honest, myself since I was constantly exhausted and overwhelmed (and trying not to look like it) by the endless meetings, late night volunteer trainings, budget crises, middle-of-the-night emergencies, tests and papers, not to mention the vicarious trauma that sensitive souls within the helping profession always seem to find themselves struggling with.
These words floated to me from cyberspace, instantly resonating somewhere True in my Soul, pulling me in towards my Higher Self. I printed them in bold Lucida Calligraphy on the loveliest flower-bordered stationary the agency could afford and made dozens of copies; handing them out to clients, staff, volunteers, interns, and anyone I thought could use some encouragement. I hung them up in my office and looked at them every day. I knew they were special, and I knew they meant something deeply important, even if I couldn’t quite put my finger on what that was. And I knew they were meant for me (as you probably knew they were meant for you the first time you read them).
Throughout the years, after getting married, graduating with my master’s degree in marriage and family therapy, getting divorced (yes, I’m aware of the irony), traveling across the country, getting remarried, beginning my therapy career, and becoming a new mother (twice), these words have come back to me over and over again. I still see them floating in cyberspace, occasionally posted by like-minded friends in artistic little square pictures on Facebook. I also see them on lovely greeting cards, and bumper stickers, and find them in other inspirational books and blogs by authors who are either quoting Marianne Williamson, or misattributing them to Nelson Mandela’s 1994 inaugural address. Over and over again, these words come back to me (like they do to you, I suspect) beckoning me to embody my true Self; giving me permission to shine.
And for a fleeting moment my whole being says, “Yes, that’s me! That’s what I’m about!” I begin to crave Creativity itself, and the energy that swells and flows freely when I’m truly inspired. I start dreaming of writing poetry, blogging, and drawing in my old sketch books. I have fantasies about singing in public! But the moment is usually short-lived of course, because then I go back to shrinking (like you do, I suspect) and feeling constricted by intangible things like time, and fatigue, and fear and, let’s not forget, that nagging sense of inferiority. Inevitably, I think that paralyzing thought just like Marianne predicts I will; But who am I? What do I have to say or offer that thousands of people haven’t already said or offered throughout history, much better than I ever could? Why should I write poetry when Rumi and Maya Angelou have already written it to perfection? Why should I start a blog when there are countless other bloggers who are a hundred times wittier and much more talented than I? And so it goes for drawing, and singing…But who am I?
Well, Marianne Williamson tells me I am a Child of God. And children don’t worry about these things, they just are. In fact, very young children don’t ever think about not doing something creative like drawing or singing or dancing because they’re “not good enough” at it, or because they perceive other people to be better at it. That is, not until someone else puts that poisonous idea into their mind first. Very young children just express their true feelings and creativity in the moment whenever they feel like it, however they feel compelled, because it’s in their heart and needs to break free. There’s no internal judgment. It isn’t good or bad, better or worse. It just is.
I am reminded of this every time my two year old son starts dancing wildly, jumping, flailing, and spinning until he falls down laughing, out of the blue, often when there’s not even music playing. Or when my five year old daughter makes up epic ballads that go on and on and sings them, sometimes loudly, sometimes quietly to herself (and anyone lucky enough to be within earshot). They are just being their creative little selves. No filter. No impulse control. No self-deprecating comments to make anyone around them feel better about themselves. They are pure and raw and in the moment, whether you like it or not…painting, coloring, getting play doh everywhere.
Most recently, our little family of four was visiting the local state park, throwing rocks into the lake and enjoying a picnic when my husband and I noticed our daughter was sitting off in the grass away from the rest of us. When she finally rejoined us after ten minutes or so, we asked her what she had been doing. She replied, “I was singing to God and the earth that I could have a puppy.” There you have it. Off in the grass, singing to God and the earth as though that’s the most perfectly normal thing to be doing on a Saturday. And why was she singing? Because she felt like it. And because it made her happy. And because she could sense the magic in it. Was she worried she might not hit the right note or another kid at the park might have a better voice? Of course not!
I’d like to be more like that (as you do, I suspect); more authentic and creatively expressive, for no other reason than that it just feels so good! I’ll be sharing my thoughts with all of you as I do, so that together we can all shine more brightly, as children do. And as Marianne says, we can manifest the glory of God that is within us. Not just some of us, but all of us.
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