Too much

It seems like for the majority of my life, I have had a hard time fitting in.

Maybe ‘fitting in’ is the wrong term.

I have just always felt like there times I was out of place.

A feeling of just being the odd one out or somewhat slightly different.

It may stem from childhood, being overweight in a sea of skinny kids and always being a little bit different than the other kids in some way.

In addition to my shortcomings and inadequacies, there have always been moments where I have been accused of being too much of something.

Too mouthy.

Too independent.

Too stubborn.

Too loud.

Too quiet.

Practically every personality trait you can imagine was reduced to being an annoying characteristic.

Some of these things I couldn’t even control.

I couldn’t stop being independent; it was the only way I knew how to be.

Stubborn was part of my nature; being loud came from having a grandfather who was partially deaf. My normal inside voice was probably two octaves above someone at a sporting event.

Being too quiet was only mentioned in cases where I didn’t like someone or felt even more self-conscious of my environment.

Needless to say, being accused of being too much anything has made me feel like I don’t fit in even more.

“It’s okay to be too much,” Mama told me one day.

“I don’t know about that,” I replied.

“It is,” she said. “You come from a line of women that have been too much. I could be too much where you were concerned. Or when things were unfair at work. Being too much is perfectly fine when you are making sure everyone is being treated fairly or being the voice for those who can’t stand up for themselves.

And Granny, as you are aware, was always too much. She was too strident and too harsh at times, but only when she needed to be.”

Mama was right in both of those regards. She had the juxtaposition of being too nice at times to be too scary when it was necessary. Granny’s personality was best described as strong and formidable because she was too independent.

“I feel like I can’t be myself, though,” I said.

I didn’t. I have felt like I can’t say what I really think sometimes because I will be called too much of a shrew.

I have shrunk myself down to where I want to be invisible, so no one will notice what I do –or do wrong – so I can hide from the constant criticism.

“How does that make you feel?” Mama asked.

“Horrible,” I told her.

“Then why do you do it?” she asked.

Why? Well, there are lots of reasons. I hold my tongue, so I don’t tick someone off. I try to be polite and accommodating, even when I am the one being wronged.

I seek to keep the peace instead of rocking the boat.

“How’s that working for you?” Mama asked.

“Don’t Dr. Phil me,” I tell her.

“I’m not. I just wonder how that making you feel.”

Awful. I felt weak and stifled.

Mama agreed. “Well, look back over things. I think you will see, life was better when you stood up for yourself and were too much. God didn’t make you a shy, quiet person. He made you stubborn and persistent because He knew you know how to use those gifts.”

Maybe she was right.

I had felt like my life had been stuck and was it maybe because I was going against my nature and not being myself.

It was, however, a time the too was used to amplify another word.

But, maybe it was time to stop living small and safe and to start living too much.

The world doesn’t need us to shrink ourselves or be less than who we are. That’s a disservice to the world and us.

If anything, we need to stop diluting ourselves and start living life full strength and be proud to be called too much.

Dear Negative Self-talk, It’s not you – it’s me (11/4/15)

Dear Negative Self-Talk,

It’s not you, it’s me. Really, this time it’s me.

I’ve listened to your lies, your negative comments, thoughts, and criticisms for far too long.

I’ve let you undermine my confidence, tell me I couldn’t do things I wanted to, and made me become a wallflower in the dance of life.

Oh, I know – you were protecting me and keeping me from getting hurt. In case I got hurt, or failed.

But failure shows I am trying.

It shows I tried something new – even if it was horribly wrong and didn’t work out.

I’d rather fail trying than remain stuck in the quicksand of apathy.

But you tell me I will even fail at things I am good at, or that I am not qualified, not ready, or the kicker: someone can do it better.

I fall for that one a lot.

But the truth is, no one can do what I can do, just like I can’t do what someone else can. We all bring our own uniqueness, our own special gifts, talents, quirks, and intrinsic touches to things to no one else but us can produce.

You tell me I am not pretty enough, not thin enough, not rich enough and a host of other things that I am not ‘enough’ of.

I fall for those too, because I feel like life only deserves to be lived by those who are thin, pretty, and have a million dollars in the bank.

I know, deep down, that is a bunch of bunk, but it knocks the wind out of me when I see someone thinner and prettier doing the things I want to do. You are quick to tell me, “See, because you’re not enough is why you can’t have that.”

When I try to focus on the positives and what I do have, your whisper becomes a roar, “You aren’t enough, you aren’t good enough – give up! It won’t happen!”

And there are times, I let you rage and let those voices control my actions, running the gamut from hiding in my shell, scared to do anything because it will be wrong and I will fail.

Or hiding and being bitterly angry because I am not moving forward in any way and I am letting you manipulate me.

Angry because I am believing what you tell me, when I know it’s wrong.

It’s not something I would tell my best friend.

Heck, I wouldn’t even say these things to someone I didn’t like.

But, I wouldn’t say these things to my best friend and I sure wouldn’t let you say them to or about her, yet, I sit here and let these things play on repeat in my head every day.

And I have finally had enough.

So Negative Self Talk, we’re done.

I have grown tired of your control, your ego, and most of all, the way you make me feel day in and day out.

I am standing up for myself and finding a new truth. A new voice that encourages me, coaches me, and tells me to dream big because I can have it all.

I am no longer giving you space in my head to destroy my soul and tell me mistakes I made when I was younger are the reason I can’t succeed now. I’ve had enough of your guilt and your remorse. I think I’ve paid my penance in full, with plenty to spare.

It’s time to move on, to go our separate ways.

I am sure you will come around from time to time – trying to get your foot back in the door – but I am smarter this time. I am not going to listen to any of your convincing sweet talk to get back in.

I wish I could say it’s been fun, but the only thing I can say is I have learned a lot. About myself and how I deserve to be talked to, and how I won’t settle for anyone to talk to me like that again. The worst part is, I let you do it for so long.

So, it’s time to bid you adieu and wish you well. I hope you know it’s really not you; it’s me.

And I am believing for better for me now.