A personal encounter with the nature of lightness and darkness
To start this off, here’s a quote that Nelson Mandela read, written by Marianne Wialliamson.
‘Our Deepest Fear’
“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.”
I don’t usually write about my personal life, but I really love this quote and have found it profoundly applicable to my past (and present), and thought it was worth sharing (and I apologize in advance if at any point I sound like Dr. Phil…).
On being bullied:
I’ve been called things for as long as I can remember, with many of them sticking out as being harsh or critical, which makes sense as I have always stood out and thus positioned myself as a perfect target. When I was younger, I was pathetically uncool from a text-book point-of-view. I was a tall, scrawny, short-haired, gap-toothed, high-pitched stutterer with asthma who miraculously and despite all social odds wouldn’t give up and who wouldn’t stop talking regardless of my own awareness of the uncool and different nature that I exuded. I think my mother did a good job instilling a sense of self and internal pride in me from day 1, which I will thank her for until the day I die. I had a sense of self that I felt good about, even though it made me quake in my shoes when I got on the school-bus in the morning and got me called “weird” by bullies that made fun of my boy-short hair and and the way that I talked. I knew who I was and I liked myself, even if the reaction that I garnered made me feel unwanted and stupid, which it undoubtedly did.
On being a bully:
It is hard for people being bullied to understand the logic of their bulliers, but I think I now might, after having gone through enough of life and it’s phases to finally consider myself almost a fraction wise. From what I understand, the logic of negativity is not too dissimilar from what Marianne Williamson was getting at in ‘Our Deepest Fear’, when she wrote that our deepest fear is our own light. Negativity is transparent and weak, and acknowledges power. Negativity feeds off of fear, which is a far easier sentiment to engage in than is confidence or courage. Negativity is uncreative, lazy. The times I’ve been at my most critical and negative have always been when I’ve been at my least confident in my own character, like in middle school, when I made the common mistake of thinking that changing the way that I looked and acted on the outside would help me to better fit-in and make me feel better internally. In this I was horribly mistaken, and in changing myself I only felt like more of an outcast, both socially and personally.
It took me that phase in middle school of feeling like a phony and a fake in my own skin to realize that I’d rather be myself and be critiqued for it than I would the opposite. I learned that when I was insecure about my own qualities, my jealousy of other’s qualities that I felt I lacked would cause me to criticize them, dislike them, mock them, which only further hurt myself and made me feel a loss of self. My negative thoughts on another person had very little, if anything to do about them, and much more to do about me. Once I started to get too sick of pretending to be someone else, I had no choice but to accept myself, because there really wasn’t a do-able option otherwise. In accepting myself, I gave myself the opportunity to like myself and discovered my own light learned to hone it without shrinking away or cowering from it. This, for the first time, gave me true and whole confidence. I could become a source of positivity and not negativity, and in that confidence and positivity I felt okay with being an outcast and felt okay standing out and making myself an easy target for criticism.
On the end result of confidence:
The funny thing about self-confidence is that from it comes positive energy, which dissipates into everything else in a butterfly effect-like way. This positivity attracts like positivity and like people into one’s life, and the confidence makes the critical jabs from others unimportant and damaging only on a surface level. “As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
I still stick out and get named “weird”, “crazy” and the like, which is inevitable, but I have also been called “beautiful” and “inspiring” and “refreshing”, which holds more weight, in my opinion, than the former (which I still take as a back-handed compliment).
So, that’s my overall take on being happy, I suppose, along with a rough history of my identity-crisises in phases (sorry if you would have rather been spared). The quote really is an invaluable lesson, and I hope everyone can read it and identify with it at some point in time.