Repeat after me: It’s ok to take up space. In fact, it’s not only “ok”, it’s imperative for your mental health and wellbeing.
I don’t know what it is about the impressions, memories and human interactions that make up the collective life experience that I’ve had so far that’s made me so terrified of taking up space. Up until this year, my 35th year on Earth, I wasn’t even able to put my finger on it. What is this thing that shuts me up when I have something to say. This thing that tells me not to bother people with my wants and needs. This thing that insists that I would be a burden if I made any demands for my own happiness. I realized suddenly, that many people, like myself, are simply afraid of taking up space. Somehow, the message we received from the universe, is that it’s better, easier, more pleasant and endearing when we take up very little space in the world. When we agree with everyone, go with the flow, be easy going; people will like and accept us better, we will avoid conflict and maintain the peace. What a heavy burden to put on ourselves huh?
For me, it's tied down to my people pleasing habits and absolute fear of confrontation. I have to be liked. It's an absolute must that everyone who meets me likes me. The quickest way to be liked is to agree with everyone, prioritize them and their needs, and be as easy going as possible. This need to be liked, when I’m not even sure I myself like everyone I meet, is unhealthy and unsustainable. Who’s liked by everyone? Even Queen B has her haters. Do you know what happens when you have severely unhealthy people pleasing habits? You lose yourself. Your personality becomes a combination of qualities that you think others like best. It becomes exhausting. Let’s face it, I’m a judgmental, indecisive, sarcastic, and introverted woman who people “think” is bubbly, excitable and very accepting. I haven’t had the courage to take my place as my true self because I fear people's reactions. Instead I carved out a very fake facade to hide what I think is not very pleasant. But you know what? The people I look up to the most, are not very “likable” people, they’re actually people who are brave enough to live authentically as themselves without a care in the world for what others think.
Let's break this down, what happens when you work hard to please virtual strangers, as well as everyone else in your life, all the damn time? Resentment. Resentment is an ugly emotion, trust me I know. And you know what, you don't even necessarily resent a certain person, you just feel generally resentful. You resent the fact that others seem to easily find their voice, mark their presence and take up their space while you struggle to be true to yourself. It took me a while to realize that those feelings I'm feeling are of my own doing. It's almost as though I believed that some people need to live behind the curtain so that others can legitimately shine. As though I had to dim my light to allow others to sparkle. Am I so afraid of conflict and confrontation that I am willing to live behind the curtain?
Perhaps it's a woman thing. We are constantly awarded for being self sacrificial, selfless, accommodating, pleasant, forgiving and loving. However, we are labeled as selfish, outspoken, opinionated or bossy for simply being confident, and taking up space. Screw that. This year, I'm making a conscious decision to take up my space. To mark my spot, to put the damn X down. I'm going to be mindful of my actions toward myself. I'm going to think hard before doing something, do I actually want this? Does this please me? Why am I doing this? Is it for me or for others? Can I make a more self loving and self respecting decision without hurting others. Can I be mindful of others but also respect my own wants and needs. This is going to be hard as it doesn't come naturally. In the last few weeks of me making a conscious effort to live more genuinely, I have noticed several positive changes in my life. I was able to confidently advocate for myself and my business with a demanding client, I was able to voice my true opinions in a house design appointment and I was also able to make very difficult decisions for my career. None of these changes came easy but they ultimately lead to me feeling content. Isn't it good to feel content instead of resentful?