When I was a little girl I stood out. I had freckles, pigtails, smiled constantly and was dressed by my mother like a small Victorian boy.
People would genuinely stop and point at me in the street. I mean, I wore fake leather ties, bloomers and little moccasin shoes. And I skipped everywhere.
When we went to parties, she’d create totally OTT dresses made out of velvet or shiny fabric for me. I carried matching handbags, which she also made me. And I parade around corridors, getting into conversations with adults and dancing whenever possible. I was constantly teetering on the borderline of Vogue / Big Fat Gypsy Wedding vibes.
And you know what, all the attention stood me in good stead. It made me comfortable with having all eyes on me. It gave me confidence. It made me understand that attention is actually a quite lovely form of low-level love, rather than something to be terrified of.
I now follow the advice of Coco Chanel… “keep your heels, head and standards high.”
So… When YOU get attention how do you feel?
How do you feel when you attention for your body, your clothes, your results, your work, your kindness, your lifestyle, your bank balance, your intelligence and your personality?
Receiving praise is easy for some things and feels all kinds of wrong for others.
I am comfortable with receiving praise and attention for pretty much everything now (“yes, I’ve had a blow dry, it does look good – thanks for noticing!”) but for a long time I battled with a massive ‘fear of shining’ (Get THE BIG LEAP by Gay Hendricks btw – killer book to smash glass ceilings) because I didn’t like people giving me praise for certain things. In some areas I just didn’t want to stand out. I tried to play things down (“oh, no I can’t usually cook like this, just turned out ok today. Phew! or “Oh, I’m just lucky!”). I found SOME attention uncomfortable because I could see it made people feel bad about themselves, so to remedy that I tried to play it down. I subordinated myself to other people’s expectations of themselves. I pretty much settled into that British underplay vibe, so GOD FORBID, I didn’t look like I was actually DOING WELL and recognising that!
But you know what, we’re not born to just ‘blend in’ and resign ourselves to the boringsville of ‘humblepie town’. We are born to find and then live our life purpose, brightly. If others can’t join you in your brightness then that’s okay… they will somehow disappear from your life and new, brighter stars will align to you. Just be you. Accept the praise, accept the attention. Don’t muffle your way through a sequence of pandering words that goes something like, ‘oh, me?lucky, fluke, yeah, well, this old thing? Erm, well I’m crap at X, this is not usually the case, just lucky I guess, well, pretty fortunate,’ MEH MEH MEH.
I’ve taught myself never to mute or dull potential just to avoid greatness.
As Marianne Williamson said in her book, A Return To Love:
“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.”
The message here (whether you go along with the God reference or not LOLS) is that you just have to be your BEST and BRILLIANT self because by doing that you actually give PERMISSION for those around you to rise up to their own true capabilities. If you shrink down like those around you just to make them feel better, you’re actually screwing them over. You’re keeping them small. And that’s not fair on them. Or you. So nobody wins. And everything stays mediocre.
It’s a bit of a headfuck to get used to, granted… we’re polite, humble humans after all… but fuck it, we need to PLAY BIG! So, if you have a situation today where you try to blend in, stand back, play small or follow the crowd (when actually, deep down, you feel it’s not really YOU), try to imagine what that’s doing for them? Try to see that it’s just keeping them stuck where they are. Try to see that it isn’t just about you (and believe me, it’s screwing you too). It’s about the impact you can make to someone else’s life potential if they see you shining brightly, ripping up rulebooks, doing your own thing… and slaying at it.
As a great woman once said, a woman totally unapologetic about standing the F out and doing her thing:
“DON’T BE LIKE THE REST OF THEM, DARLING.”
Here’s a few more of Chanel’s ‘Life Codes’…