One of my soul sisters sent me a birthday card that says, “This card is decorated with matter-of-fact boldness and fierceness, and so it is especially suited to you.” Her words keep ringing in my ears because I don’t feel particularly bold or fierce and I have trouble embracing those descriptions because for much of my life, the word “too” has been attached to adjectives describing me: too sensitive, too intense, too much. Some parts of me want to shrink and play small in order to stay safe. If I hit a certain threshold of boldness, fierceness, and intensity, I want to reel it back in but I’m not able to do that anymore.
My body is making it clear that I’m expanding my threshold, that I can’t keep holding myself back. And in the external world, I’m receiving affirmation that living boldly is a good thing. This weekend I went to “Let’s Glow SF,” which is a festival that projects visual art onto the side of buildings and plays accompanying music. These are 285-foot projections of penguins and ships and geometric shapes. These are unapologetic pieces of art that are made to be noticed. I didn’t hear a single person say, “I wish they were smaller.” Instead, every person appreciated how big and bold the art was. We all oohed and aahed at how cool it was to see art of this magnitude.
Another affirmation about living boldly comes from one of my non-blood nephews. At almost 20 months, his favorite expression at the moment is, “More, more.” Stirring tealights in a metal bowl? “More, more!” Having a dance party in the living room? “More, more!” If it’s not’s bedtime or something harmful, the adults in his life are acquiescing to “more, more.” As someone who’s used to “less, less,” it’s astounding to give and receive “more, more.” It’s sweet to watch the fullness of my nephew be celebrated. Witnessing him, I see that the passion and excitement truly are a part of his makeup. What if the same is true about me?
In my spiritual tradition, we say everyone is born with certain inborn traits and characteristics. It’s how we’re made, if you will. The environment also shapes us so this isn’t a “nature versus nurture” thing, more like a “nature and nurture thing.” How this relates to me is that I’m not “too” anything. I’m just right because I was born this way. I’m a highly sensitive person and that means I’m attuned to things other people don’t notice. I’m a passionate person and that means I love deeply. I’m a direct person so nothing is hidden with me.
I won’t qualify those characteristics by saying they’re good or bad because the truth is the answer varies depending on who you ask. Some people will think I’m “too” whatever. But others will think I’m not “enough” whatever. The more important question is how do I feel? How I’m feeling is that I want to be my full and true self. I want to be more of who I am without self-imposed limitations. I want to be like the artwork I absorbed this weekend and my nephew who’s a delight. I want to be the person my higher power made me to be, and that includes someone bold and fierce. And I want that for you too.
If voices tell you you’re too much or not enough, I encourage you to question whether that’s true. Is it the capital “T” Truth or is it just someone’s opinion? Would someone else think differently? Could you, too, embrace the fullness and authenticity of who you are? If so, I’ll be over here cheering you on.
I dream of a world where we allow ourselves to be who we are. A world where we recognize people will always have opinions about how we should act but that doesn’t mean we have to pay attention to them. A world where we express the fullness of ourselves because we understand we were made the way we are. A world where we allow ourselves to live boldly and fiercely.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.