“Someone else’s opinion of me is none of my business.”
~ Rachel Hollis
I’m reading a book called, “Girl, Wash Your Face” by Rachel Hollis. Ms. Hollis is a 35-year-old author, entrepreneur, wife and mother of four. Her story is interesting and her ambitions are bold and I’m sure the book is geared more toward a demographic of women younger than me but I find myself nodding in agreement at this young woman’s insight.
The book is broken down by chapters and the title of each chapter is a lie that we (primarily women) tell ourselves. For example, The Lie: I’ll Start Tomorrow. Or The Lie: I’m Not Good Enough. Or The Lie: I Need to Make Myself Smaller. How do you even do that? Make yourself smaller? Easy.
This particular chapter of the book resonated with me personally because I feel well-practiced at making myself smaller. I don’t mean physically smaller, like through diet and exercise, but instead I often minimalize my accomplishments in order to not appear boastful or self-centered. I downplay the success of our businesses, my career as a Realtor, the joy of teaching beach yoga and the achievements of our children, and I know I’m not the only person who does this. I think it’s innately established in (for the most part) women. A few examples:
“Susie, I love your hair!” “Oh thanks, it needs to be washed and I haven’t had time to get it cut so it’s really a mess. But thanks.”
Or, “Congratulations, Jennifer, on landing that big deal for your company!” “Oh, that, I just happened to be in the right place at the right time, and everything fell into place.”
How about, “Amy, you are such a good mom!” “Yeah well, you should have seen me this morning, trying to get everyone out the door for school. Total chaos!”
A few years ago, when I was back in Iowa on a visit, I ran into a reporter for the local newspaper. He asked about our life in Florida and I mentioned that I was, believe it or not, writing a column for a publication, isn’t that funny? A few days later one of the staff from our hometown paper called me and asked if they could do a short feature story on what I was doing. Sure, I said. I remembered similar stories about “Where Are They Now?” in reference to people who had moved away. But when the article came out and I saw the newspaper, I cried. Not tears of pride and joy but instead total and complete embarrassment for this “small feature article” that took up the top half of the front page. How I wanted to make myself smaller in that moment. I wanted to not only shrink the article, but steal all the copies from the front porches of the people I imagined would roll their eyes when they saw my name in large print on the front page. I wanted to run and hide from the judgment I knew would follow. Judgment by the people who knew me but didn’t necessarily like me. Judgment by family and friends who knew where I was and what I was doing and didn’t need the reminder that I left. And then there was the harshest critic of all… me. I didn’t have anything that important to share with the people in the town where I grew up. My life isn’t newsworthy. My accomplishments are not front-page important. I am average. What I’m doing with my life is not interesting. Or is it?
In her book, Rachel Hollis suggests we may have fallen into the habit of “muting” ourselves. We remain silent when we have so much to say for fear of being judged. Subconsciously we find it safer to keep everyone’s expectations low so as not to disappoint. Rather than celebrating our unique abilities and bold dreams, we suppress expressing them aloud for fear of being ridiculed. And often the biggest critic; the loudest voice of disparagement, is our own. Our monkey mind chatters away, morning, noon and night, using words like can’t and don’t. Too often we tell ourselves we aren’t good enough, smart enough, thin enough or deserving of the good things in life that come our way. For me, the newspaper story about my current life was too much. Unimportant to the readers. But if someone read that article and said to themselves, “I can follow my dreams, even after age 50,” then I feel better about sharing.
Author Sarah Ban Breathnach said, “The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.”
Be a bold dreamer, and an ambitious doer. Share your story and never make yourself smaller. Pay less attention to the mind chatter and more attention to the heart patter because when we’re judging ourselves or others, we are not loving ourselves or others. You can only control the voice and the actions of you. How another perceives us or receives us, in the end, is truly none of our business.
Laurie Kasperbauer, RYT 200, enjoys the spiritual and physical benefits of yoga practice and instructs both group and private classes. Laurie is also an active Florida realtor specializing in properties in Naples and Marco Island. She can be reached at Harborview Realty, 291 S. Collier Blvd., Marco Island, or by calling 712-210-3853.