The crime of outshining

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One of my biggest, most formative wounds happened when I was in the sixth grade. I was part of a triad of friends, three besties that played together every recess, went home together after school and told each other every last secret.

Until one day when everything changed.

I arrived at school to find these friends had gone cold. When I asked what was wrong, they simply declared that they weren’t friends with me anymore. That was it. No warning, no fight that preceded it. Just a simple fact: You’re out.

I was bereft and grieved hard. I wondered what I did wrong.Β I wondered what was wrong with me. I wracked my brain trying to figure it out.

A few days later, they started calling me names – saying I looked like a monkey, mocking me for wearing designer jeans. It was an incredibly painful time and it wounded me deeply.

But here’s the thing – the damage to our spirit always lives in the story we tell ourselves.

Shit happens. People behave badly. They bully, they call each other names, they act unskillfully. People do what they do. What we decide about ourselves in those moments is what matters most.

I could have decided a lot of things that day – that it wasn’t safe to make friends, that I was a terrible person, that I was ugly.

What I gathered instead was that they were envious — that the boys gave me attention, that my mother bought me nice clothes, that I got good grades. The message I got was clear- Don’t be too much. Don’t be too smart or too pretty or too sparkly. Keep your head low and people won’t hate you. Don’t outshine your friends or you won’t have any.

That story has haunted me. And crept its way into every aspect of my life. There is a ceiling on how much success I allow myself to have or how much I allow myself to enjoy my success. If I do achieve a big win, I find myself talking about how hard it was, or how it took a lot of work and struggle. I want people to know it didn’t come easily, that I suffered. I’m often afraid others will feel diminished by my success.

Years ago, at a women’s creativity group, we did an exercise where we had to go around the circle and “brag” about our creative successes to date. I was terrified… and had a FULL ON breakdown during my turn. I sobbed and couldn’t even get the words out. They had to skip me. Hello emotional landmine!

I can see now that I have been trying to heal this wound for so many years.

Part of my healing process has been to surround myself with circles of women who want me to be big, who want me to shine, who want me to be the best version of me. They want this because it inspires them, it lifts them up, it gives them permission to be big as well. They want this because they know that keeping me tethered keeps them tethered too.

Sometimes we have to do a big re-wiring job on our brains. We have to first notice those limiting beliefs- the ones that hold us back from being our true selves, our deepest selves, our shiniest selves. And then we have to say, No more! That belief no longer serves me. It no longer keeps me safe, it actually keeps me down.

And then we write a new story.

Mine is this: The more I shine, the more others shine in my presence. The more success I have, the more I inspire others.

Does anyone else relate to the crime of outshining? Do you have a new story you need to write?

 

 

152 Comments

  1. Posted March 27, 2013 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    Wow. WOW. I’ve been reading your blog for so long and this might be one of my favorite posts. I had friends like this, and to some extent, I still do. I’m growing a lot right now and the pushback and weirdness I’m feeling from some people makes me really sad. Thanks for writing about our need to change the story. Beautiful.

  2. Heather
    Posted March 27, 2013 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    This rings so true. I have been feeling this really strong pull lately to rewrite my story, but I really don’t know what the new story wants to say. I’m on a quest to find that this year….

  3. Posted March 27, 2013 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    yes yes yes!

    i’m deeply living this lesson right now having not let myself shine for a long long time. Yet having been so inspired these last few months by the shining (yet vulnerable) women around me (like you) to let myself shine and step into confidence in a new way.

    I’m also noticing which friendships and relationships I actually feel shame about shining in, where maybe that old me is the norm in that relationship and they aren’t comfortable with the new me….and having open conversations about this. Such good work and I love that you are letting yourself shine too my friend because you are truly incredible.

  4. Posted March 27, 2013 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    I have to agree with Amy (above) – one of my favorite posts after reading for many years. I SO relate to this topic, and so appreciate your beautiful writing about it. The pain of the past, the seeing it clearly, and the writing a new story. And your new story? Very very true, speaking from how your courage has been positively contagious in my own life. I’m grateful. And growing into this truth in my own life and circles too. Thank you sister. xoxo

  5. Posted March 27, 2013 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    My 10 year old is currently going through this at school. And the thing is, is that she gets hand me downs a lot, sometimes she wears the funkiest shoes (of which I think are hideous but she loves them). This is that time in her life when I need to reassure her that she is wonderful. That there is nothing wrong with her. That this is the time where emotions and hormones are coming out. Such crucial moments in children’s lives, where one may not thing it’s that big of a deal, but where WE know how life lasting those moments can be. Thank you. πŸ™‚

  6. Posted March 27, 2013 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    YES! I totally get this.
    In Grade 6, I got an A+ on a report that I did on a trip we took to a ranch. A grade that was well-deserved, considering all the work I put into it, all the drawings, etc etc. When the reports were handed back, my “best” friend at the time leaned over and said, “Oh, of course Belinda got an A+… teacher’s pet!!!”
    That comment hurt so much, and I really took it on. Rather than realize the comment was more a reflection on where she was at (yes, not so self-aware in Grade 6!), I took it to mean that I should keep my successes private. People will not like me if I am too successful.
    I am slowly, and fully, starting to realize how much it means to me to see others succeed, and therefore, how I can inspire others by doing the same.

    Thank you for sharing this!

  7. Andrea
    Posted March 27, 2013 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    Oh my body has got this low level shaking going on. In your story I see me. Or is it you see me?!
    I’ve had recent friends like this but had and amazing shift when one of these friends took responsibility for how she was feeling. Oh what a relief!! It wasn’t me. And in that I feel safer to be in relationship with her and with myself!
    Thank you for the reminder that it’s the story I tell myself and how important it is to surround myself with people who want me to shine!

  8. sara
    Posted March 27, 2013 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    Love you, A.

  9. Posted March 27, 2013 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    i love this!
    it has been my dream for a while to have a business that helps other moms realize their dreams (crafting, teaching, cooking, owning their own business). & reading your post made me realize that when i shine, they shine but also when they shine, i shine. we all get to make each other shiny! no apologies!

    thank you, i love your words!

  10. tisha
    Posted March 27, 2013 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    Wow. Thank you for your truth telling, Andrea. It reminded me of being told in fifth grade by a teacher that I was “too big for my britches” when I performed in the school talent show. After having so much fun and feeling so myself, I felt such shame after her comment…and like you find myself often downplaying successes so I don’t get “too big.”

    I think this could be a retreat in and of itself! πŸ˜‰

  11. Posted March 27, 2013 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    words of truth that hit the target… thank you, Andrea, for sharing your story. it reflects my own – the same situation has happened to me, both as a child and several times as an adult. i’ve learned what you have: make better choices about the friends i have in my life. it makes all the difference when we can support one another! <3 blessings to you!

  12. Anu
    Posted March 27, 2013 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    I still see this even now in my masters level classes at college. I’ve had people say “overachiever!” many times in fake joking or disgruntled tones. What they are really saying is that they think I make them look bad because of the effort I put into my work. I know enough now to not let their negativity get me down. I am committed to doing my own personal best and being me πŸ™‚

  13. Diana Arseneau-Powell
    Posted March 27, 2013 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    About 12 years ago I went through a major depression and saw a therapist. She had me fill out a 20 page form, all about my background, my family, what I thought my strengths and weaknesses were. It took ages. One of the questions was about what you thought your parents said (would say) to you and I answered, “Who do you think YOU are?” and “You think you’re so big”. We spent a lot of time working on this. As a shorthand way of describing how my family reacted to things I say that they think “no one you know is famous”. So that includes me, except that I was famous! I was on the radio and had over 50,000 listeners! I performed on stage before hundreds of people! I spoke at international conferences! I was interviewed on television, radio, in magazines and newspapers! But all that just dissipated under the glare of their “Youthink you’re so big”. And kids can be awful. If you’re a bit different, if you have a non-kid talent or ability they can be vile. When I was a kid all I wanted to be was an adult because I knew that kids were cruel and adulthood brought responsibility and priveledge. (But unenlightened adults can be cruel too, I learned!) I’m nearly 60, I hope I’ve worked out most of this.

  14. Christy Keirn
    Posted March 27, 2013 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    This blog reflects my childhood closely. I was afraid to arrive later than my friends at school because they teamed up on the last one there. I was always afraid to wear new clothes to school, for fear of being picked on. I still struggle, but God has put some awesome women in my life today, and for that, I am so grateful.

  15. Posted March 27, 2013 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    you don’t have any idea how much i needed to read this TODAY!!! thank you for putting into words what i’ve been struggling to figure out. i’m currently in a few situations that i feel like i’m being penalized for having success. it hurts. it does make me want to hide. your post gives me a bigger perspective on what really is happening here. thank you Andrea!

  16. emily b
    Posted March 27, 2013 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    We had a copy of this in our kitchen growing up- something that I really appreciate now! “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.”- Marianne Williamson Keep choosing to be a liberator!

  17. Posted March 27, 2013 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    I think I’m right in the middle of telling that story and watching it change right now. xo

  18. Posted March 27, 2013 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    I have a nine year old daughter who is struggling at school because the things she likes are different than what the others girls like. She’s not really into clothes or pop stars. She likes books and dragons and animals. So she gets left out and feels like something is wrong with her. And even when I tell her that she is awesome and perfect as she is, she doesn’t quite believe it because of the messages she gets at school. I hate that she gets these messages.

    Thanks for sharing your story. It breaks my heart, but it also makes me think that it helped you become the wise and amazing person you are today and I have to believe that my own daughter’s experiences will only make her stronger and wiser and more amazing in the long run.

  19. Tania
    Posted March 27, 2013 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    I’ve also had a story like that. My best friend at school left me without any explanation at all. After years I noticed that I was doing the same thing: leave before you get hurt. Explain nothing, just go away. I changed my way since then, but I still struggle with the echoes of that story.
    Lots of stories teach us not to be smart, beautiful, extraordinary, not to be anything at all, not to show ourselves to the world. It’s a challenge to find another lessons in those stories. Challenge that needs to be accepted over and over again.

  20. Posted March 27, 2013 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    I’ve had this experience, too. It’s difficult. I’ve had to cull the supportive friends out from the sea of competition and cattiness (both of which I’ve never understood). What I realized is that the ones that are there for me (and I, for them) are worth so much more than the other friendships put together.

    I, too, find myself making excuses about my receiving my B.S. a couple of years ago (in my early 30s) and graduating summa cum laude fairly easily. I always make the similar excuses you have – that I worked really hard and put so much time in. This is all true to some extent, but not as true as I try to make it sound.

    When I was a little girl, I learned from my own mother that I have a “naturally arrogant” way about me. I never understood this because I never tried to be bragging or arrogant, but it always stuck with me. It still affects me to this day. I never want to sound like a know-it-all or seem like I think I’m better than someone else. It has especially hit in my 30s and has caused insecurities and anguish in some situations. However, I’m learning to take my confidence back.

    Thanks for this post. It is something I am currently dealing with and it feels good that other amazing human beings are going through similar things. Much love to you!

  21. Posted March 27, 2013 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    I don’t have a specific instance when it started, but my issue was around being too smart. I think it was a quiet message through my childhood (I was “teacher’s pet” and “goody two shoes” a lot) and then capped off by two relationships in a row with people who were intimidated by my college degree. A huge number of things have shifted in my life in the last few years and I realize now the only thing holding me back is me and the story I’m still carrying. My current partner thinks my smarts are totally sexy. We are raising a smart little girl and I want to set an example for her to use all of her talents, not hold any of them back because other people are intimidated. So it is time for me to change this story. I love the quote posted above by emily b – I’ve never seen it in entirety!

  22. Diana Arseneau-Powell
    Posted March 27, 2013 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    @Missy, I can relate, I got my BSc last year at the age of 58. And that’s another thing. When at 18 I said to my mother that I wanted to go to college and study psychology she said (this is one of her famous ones) “How can you go to college and study psychology when you can’t keep your room clean???”. I’m a speech therapist now…

  23. Posted March 27, 2013 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    That is so true and I can relate to each moment, especially when you talked about not being able to talk about your successes. I struggle with that and find it hard to look at what I’ve done and realize it in those terms, instead I tend to just think I just did something, no big deal. It’s hard to feel proud of yourself when you worry you might offend someone in the process. I think the lesson is to be proud of yourself, your accomplishments, then others will be happy for you too, and when you worry less about others, you will be a happier person not only for yourself but in the eyes of others. Funny, I think sometimes my comments come out just because I need to hear them πŸ˜‰ Thanks for your post, I really liked it! I too like the quote that Emily posted in the comments, I’ve hear that very recently too.

  24. Posted March 27, 2013 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    This is like reading the story of my life. Oh my god. I’ve never thought about it in these terms before, but that “outshining” rejection happened to me repeatedly. Oh the pain. And yes, my best most true friends *want* me to be all of me, not toned down, public-consumption me.

    Thank you so much for writing this, I have so much to think about!

  25. msd
    Posted March 27, 2013 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    As long as we don’t stereotype success, or what it means to shine…
    I was voted most likely to succeed…TWICE throughout high school. l also experienced the crime of outshining. I have to admit even then feeling a lot of pressure to BECOME something important in the world and later shame for believing I was not. Cyclic paradox. Only recently am l learning to nurture passion and would like to emphasize that everyone’s way to shine is a unique gift.
    Fireworks are beautiful!… so are candles, fire flies, smoldering embers…

  26. Posted March 27, 2013 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    Amen to this.
    I have always been the sidekick, the supportive friend to the person who needed to the center of attention. It was a place I could hide.
    I’ve feared outshining my mother, of achieving more in my life than she has in hers (a whole other blog post, I imagine).
    There are so many fears of rejection, but yes, this is such a big one. I totally relate (especially to the justifying, backpedaling, explaining away of success).
    But for what it’s worth, all the time you’ve been struggling with this, you’ve been inspiring me.
    Shine on, all of us.
    xox

  27. Jody
    Posted March 27, 2013 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    “But what we decide about ourselves in those moments is what matters most.”

    BRILLIANT. HUGE. THANK YOU.

  28. Posted March 27, 2013 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    Oh, Andrea. Big virtual hug to you. I would like you to know that your shining, and simply the way that you are in the world, is SUCH an inspiration to me, and I’m so happy to have you as a friend and to be able to cheer you on in your awesomeness, all the way, zooming to the top and beyond! xoxo

  29. Posted March 27, 2013 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    5th grade, walking down the hall, friends telling me “Kelly, why do you act so ‘big’ all the time?!?” My first lesson that I should keep my light dim, with many more to follow. Now, I’m learning to believe that when my light shines brightly I can help others light up too.

  30. Posted March 27, 2013 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    What a great story! Thank you for your generous gift of perspective. I love when people finally accept the glow of their own light πŸ™‚

  31. Posted March 27, 2013 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    Baby – shine the hell on! When you shine, I shine. When you shine I can see the light when I’m dark. I love what you wrote. This is a HUGE issue. I’m going to listen to myself better when someone comments on my shine. What if I said in response, “I know! I’m so shiny!” Blind me with your shine honey. Love this!

  32. AKD
    Posted March 27, 2013 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    I think the best gift my mother ever gave me was a healthy self esteem. My mother hung on my every word (a bit eye rolling, but true). My dad, who had two kids from a previous marriage, has said that when I was a kid that others expressed concern to him that my mother doted on me too much and was going to “give me a big head” or make me think I was too big for my britches. I mean, sure, sometimes having good self esteem trips me up, but I would take it any day over people (mostly women) I know who are completely hobbled by low self esteem. I love the stories in the comments of those of you who are telling your kids that they are good enough, smart enough, and dammit, you like them just the way you are.

  33. Posted March 27, 2013 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    So beautifully said, and so true. And, having just finished reading Gay Hendricks’ book, The Big Leap, so timely for me to find this today!!

    How often do we “Upper Limit” ourselves because we’re afraid of outshining, afraid of leaving people behind, afraid of envy, or just because we have a deep (false) sense of our own unworthiness?

    I love Hendricks’ “Universal Success Mantra”:

    “I expand in abundance, success, and love every day, as I inspire those around me to do the same.”

    Hendricks included inspiring those around you into the mantra for a reason. The more we allow ourselves to shine, the more we give permission to those around us to shine, too (assuming they can get past their own “self-installed glass ceilings,” as I call them, and stop “Upper Limiting” *them*selves…)

  34. Melanie
    Posted March 27, 2013 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    WOW. Every single word could have been my life when younger. Thank you for your post.

  35. Posted March 27, 2013 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    Oh yes. I learned this lesson well, many times over. Shine and you will hurt, for one reason or another. At one point as a teen I even got a “bad” review in a local paper for being the best dancer in a musical and standing out too much. CRAZY.

    I am actively re-writing the story and have been for the last year or so. It’s been amazing to watch my subconscious work hard to sabotage me in moments of shining big. But I think the energy is clearing as I stand strong in this new story.

    “The more I shine, the more others shine in my presence.” Having been in your presence, I know this to be true.

  36. Posted March 27, 2013 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

    YES!!!!!
    Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes!!!!!!
    I love this!!
    The Marianne Williamson quote has always hit me so hard. About not shining too bright. Well I’m done with that! And I’m surrounding myself with sisters who shine their brightest and expect me to do the same. <3

  37. Posted March 27, 2013 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    What a beautiful, brave and inspiring post as always, Andrea. Keep on shining!

  38. Posted March 27, 2013 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

    I never understood why we, women in particular, are so ‘you can’t say that about yourself.’ I recently had a baby, my fourth, and worked my ass off at the gym during the entire pregnancy. I was going to NOT post a photo on facebook of how I looked after having the baby because, well, I didn’t want to be a braggart, but I was SO DAMN PROUD, that I did anyhow. I don’t care how many people rolled their eyes. I earned it.

    http://whosmydaddy.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/a-healthy-egoism/

  39. Posted March 27, 2013 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

    Oh my, it is as if you were reading my mind. I just came from my dissertation committee meeting — I am not even going to address their behavior or any rationales for it … instead I am just proud of myself for giving them my best. I am over half way to being ABD, it’s progress of a sort.

  40. Posted March 28, 2013 at 12:53 am | Permalink

    the more you shine, the more you give others permission to shine. that’s the quote I wrote on my art piece two days ago for this week. i believe it wholeheartedly

  41. Posted March 28, 2013 at 1:36 am | Permalink

    Oh Andrea! Yes, I can relate both as a child and an adult. When I was a kid other kids called me teacher’s pet etc. and pitted themselves against me. I skipped a couple of grades – but that just made things worse. At home my grades appreciated, but in everything else I was told I was “too much” – “too smart for my own good” (especially if I was telling the truth about something they didn’t want the truth told about) “too dramatic” “too curious” … In high school I toned it all down so much I was considered an at risk student. I got myself thrown out of high school – and a couple of years later got a GED – the instructors there told me I was exceptionally smart. I told no one else about that comment. Fast forward to adulthood – men that disdained or ridiculed my love for literature, poetry, writing, photography … friends that told me I was to “high fulutin'” I tried to be less, I buried my self or hid what I was doing. There were overt and covert rules and I tried to follow them. Until I was 45 – I went back to school and graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree in English, graduated Suma Cum Laude. But even during that time I heard other students bemoan the fact I was in their class saying,”there goes the curve!”, I had one professor that ridiculed me for being proud of my grades – but it wasn’t just about grades, it was that I was loving every minute of learning. Currently I was told at a home owner’s association that I thought I knew everything – and that cut to the quik for a while because I don’t want to ever come off as a know it all. A lot of the stalling around the things I want to do has to do with fear of failure on one side of the coin and fear of being ridiculed or otherwise hurt because I do certain things extremely well. And being creative has earned me lots of put downs too. I’m in the process of shedding all this crap – it’s not mine. It’s born out of the insecurities and fears of others. Thank you for sharing this!!

  42. Posted March 28, 2013 at 1:41 am | Permalink

    Oh, this spoke to me so much. I had a similar problem in grade five, and it actually led to me being suicidal at nine years old.

    I think we are indoctrinated that, as women, our success should be about other people, and so any sign of personal pride in it is seen as shameful. I think THAT is shameful.

    It is a terrible thing to be told that we are not allowed to hold and own our greatest achievements.

  43. Nancy Wright
    Posted March 28, 2013 at 1:45 am | Permalink

    Yes, happened to me as an adult. Turns out the friends were treacherous, not real friends at all. Lesson learned, move on, keep your head up, keep sparkling!!

  44. sharon
    Posted March 28, 2013 at 1:53 am | Permalink

    i can relate with blogger .. it made me cry … all those bad memories of the past comes back to me…

  45. Kudra
    Posted March 28, 2013 at 1:55 am | Permalink

    Yes, I can relate completely to your story. I went through this recently and I still go through it a lot. For some reason because I tend to do so well in school and get the most prestigious of awards, I don’t do well in the friend department. Rather friends seem to disperse. I think I know why. I wear my heart on my sleeve. Anyone who knows me knows that I am emotional, I do care what people think or say, and I analyze things long after they are over. Far after when friends are gone. The sad thing is I never have anyone to celebrate the joys of my life with. In all of this, I’ve grown closer to God. I’ve become comfortable with being by my self. Yes, there are days when I wish I had that close bestie that is always depicted in the movies, but life has shown me otherwise. I’m learning to withdraw, hold back and not expect too much from people. It’s probably not what should be happening, but it’s happening. Reading your blog is reassuring that others go through similar issues. I’ll try not to let other people’s misbehavior change me. Fingers crossed. It’s a change I don’t welcome, but it does change how I feel.

  46. Teresa
    Posted March 28, 2013 at 2:16 am | Permalink

    So, so true, and beautifully put. This quote came to mind after reading your post:

    “What is to give light must endure burning.”
    ~ Viktor E. Frankl

    We are constantly told in this society that we shouldn’t shine, particularly as women. If we can lean into those uncomfortable feelings when we do shine, we will find that the discomfort will burn away.

    Blessings~

  47. Beth
    Posted March 28, 2013 at 2:26 am | Permalink

    I had a girlfriend in the same profession, who wanted to relocate. She wasn’t sure how she felt about me moving with her. “When you’re around, people ask you questions about what we do. But I want them to ask me.”
    I guess she gets points for honesty.
    But I sure didn’t move with her.

  48. Posted March 28, 2013 at 2:58 am | Permalink

    Primary 5 (aged 8). Picked for the role of Marta in the High School production of The Sound of Music. Still feel weird about performing.

  49. Kathleen
    Posted March 28, 2013 at 4:17 am | Permalink

    Beautiful post – I’ve been thinking about it all day. I had a similar incident in middle school. It wasn’t a too shiny moment, just a new girl on the block who decided my best friend was now hers. I remember making the decision that I just wouldn’t care too much about anyone. Socializing and being around people was fine but I kept them at arms length. It wasn’t safe to put my heart out there when people could change their minds about me in moment.
    That wound is long since healed but it makes me want to help other young people who can create beliefs that don’t serve them based on childlike “unskilled” behaviors.
    Kudra – from the many posts on this comment I hope you can see there are wonderful women that would be happy to be your friend and applaud your shining light!

  50. Susan
    Posted March 28, 2013 at 4:46 am | Permalink

    I have struggled with this my whole life, but only became aware of it within the last year. Above all, it was clear to me to not outshine anyone in my family. Yet they were always fearful, scared, …depressed. So to be anything more than that was unspokenly bad because it meant I was making them feel bad. I’m learning that what I do can’t fix anyone else but me, and I gotta look out for me first. It’s terribly difficult, but at least I am mentally aware of it.

  51. Posted March 28, 2013 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    This post spoke volumes to me. Thank you so much Andrea. I could quite easily write a novella about my feelings on all of this.

  52. Posted March 28, 2013 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Wow! I needed to hear this. When I was 18, one of my friends came to my house to tell me that everybody hated me and that I had to change. I was pretty, very popular with the boys, and always top of the class at school. I lost all my “friends” that day.

    Now in my late 30s, my life isn’t bad, but I’m still single with no kids. I guess all those years I’ve been too scared to get attached to someone who will eventually say to me “actually, I hate you, you’ve got to change”. And yet, I know that I’m a good person and that I have a LOT to give.

    Things have improved over the past few years and I’m a lot more confident now. I’m almost there, I just need that final push to dare to shine again.

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful post.

    C.

  53. Posted March 28, 2013 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    I just cried through this. Thank you for so eloquently explaining this experience that we have shared. It reminds me that I am not alone in rewriting this story. You have just inspired me and I am very grateful.

  54. Posted March 28, 2013 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    Really interesting – thanks for sharing this. Something similar happened to me in middle school, and your anecdote puts it under a different light. Could explain things …
    And I can definitely relate to the ongoing impact of that early wound.
    I didn’t have the same reaction as you … I didn’t relate it to success … but my situation definitely created trust issues for me and have made me very sensitive to betrayal. I’ve worked a lot on this over the years (thanks therapist!) and the wall I’d built up isn’t there (so much) anymore.
    Good on you for pushing through and for not letting this childhood trauma get the better of you.
    It IS very disappointing when you realize people you thought were friends are petty and don’t celebrate your successes. It speaks much more to their insecurities and small mindedness than it does to anything about you. I’m mourning a long standing friendship myself for the same reasons (among others) and as sad as it is, I know it’s best that I surround myself with positive rather than negative forces. Life is just too short.

  55. Posted March 28, 2013 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    Am writing the final module of my Step into Your Starring Role program and it’s all about celebrating. The crime of outshining is indeed the biggest mama of ALL reasons I see that people stop themselves short. This post is going into the Additional Resources section.

    It’s gorgeous, brilliant, honest and helpful. Thank you. Thank you.

  56. Posted March 28, 2013 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    you just spoke my heart.

    and instead of knowing it only in my head, i know it in my very core.

    thank you again.

  57. Pat
    Posted March 28, 2013 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Wow, this is so well said. Every teen or adult with that fragile teen/child inside them should read this.

  58. Posted March 28, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    I hope it doesn’t seem skeevy to do this, Andrea, but I had to share a link to something I wrote back in February, because it’s like we have major mind meld. http://fierceandpowerful.com/wordpress/when-people-want-you-to-stay-in-the-shadows/

    MIND MELD!!! Glad to see I’m not the only one …

  59. Posted March 28, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Because of my wounding experience in the past, I have not taken full credit for one of the biggest accomplishments of my life – completing my doctorate in 2007. It’s been 6 years since then and I am just now understanding that I need to surround myself with people who genuinely appreciate me for who I am. They aren’t so far away from me, I just needed to open my mind and heart to let them in. I shine more brightly these days and I know their support boosts me.

    Andrea, you take these incredibly personal experiences and share incredibly helpful ways to work through the issues. Thank you so much for all of this!

  60. Sara
    Posted March 28, 2013 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    This post hit a nerve with me too. It happened to me the last few years of high school. I found different friends and was happy but it haunted me. As a new mom, I was at an early childhood class with my daughter and some of the moms asked me to join them after class for lunch. The whole way there I remember saying to myself, “people like me, they actually want to be around me.” Those mean girls in high school had made me think I was unlikeable.

    I have wonderful, kind, awesome friends now. I am thankful for them every day. They fill me up and make my life better.

    My wish for everyone is they are able to have wonderful friends that build them up and make their life better and find a way to remove themselves from people who don’t.

  61. Posted March 28, 2013 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    I love your site. I have struggled with the same problem, but noticed it recently and wondered about how to overcome it… You inspire me to want to write more too…

  62. Posted March 28, 2013 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    I love this. Resonates so deeply. Thank you for all these honest, brave, wise words.

  63. Loretta
    Posted March 28, 2013 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    I experienced this as a child, but I have to say, it’s not just a problem for girls/women. It’s a problem for boys and men. I watched both sons learn to keep their heads down in high school, just to survive. And my husband still struggles with how to shine without getting the blank “you are so weird” look from his male friends. We ALL need to learn to shine!

  64. Kim
    Posted March 28, 2013 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    Yes!!!!!!!!! Thank you for articulating this! Any re-wiring ideas??? πŸ™‚

  65. Posted March 28, 2013 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    Looks like this resonated with a whole lot of readers! Happened to me. End of sixth grade, I was popular. First day of junior high I was dirt and rumors had circulated about me. Huh?? It did color a lot for years, probably until I started the university where everyone liked me again and I didn’t get it.

  66. Jen
    Posted March 28, 2013 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    Oh how I wish I could send this post to the girls who did just this to me in 8th grade.

    Gee, could I still be trying to heal my own wound?

  67. Nina
    Posted March 29, 2013 at 12:26 am | Permalink

    YES
    Always good to be reminded of this.
    Thank you

    β€œOur 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. 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 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.”
    ― Marianne Williamson

  68. Posted March 29, 2013 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Whoa…
    I know exactly how you feel. Thanks for sharing your story, because it helped me recognize mine. πŸ˜‰

  69. Posted March 29, 2013 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Oh my. This post is amazing – not just in the beautiful writing – but in the beautiful timing. I’ve been listening to ‘Girl on Fire’ on repeat – “looks like a girl, but she’s a flame. so bright, she can burn your eyes.” On Wed, I saw my kinesiologist, who advised that I need to work on clearing my third chakra b/c as she put it “you used to be so very bright, so full of light, that it made people uncomfortable. so you learned to dim that brightness.” We’re working on clearing away the grey in that chakra to let the light in again.

    THANK YOU for sharing this post!

  70. Shawna Greenway
    Posted March 29, 2013 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    Andrea, once again you are just so SPOT ON! Madeline, my 11 year old, is going through this right now in 6th grade. I don’t remember girls being this mean when I was her age but I’m also still best friends with the girls I met when we moved to San Antonio the summer before 5th grade so maybe we had some super nerd shield protecting us, I don’t know. And I’m telling Madeline the same thing you said here – they’re envious of you because of your big heart, wanting to help everyone you see no matter what they have done or said to you in the past, that you’re happy all the time, good grades, etc. But she’s so in the moment right now that she doesn’t see it. It’s heartbreaking! I’m going to have her read your post this weekend since she seems to listen to other adults right now, not Matt and me.

    MUAH!!

  71. Posted March 29, 2013 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    Golly! I REALLY Needed to read this – What a Relief.
    Thank you, Thank you!
    love,
    -g-

  72. Posted March 29, 2013 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    Only the words, “Thank you” can burst out through my emotion from this post. Thank you thank you thank you… You are remarkable.

  73. Laurel
    Posted March 29, 2013 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    Love it! It is also my story but I didn’t handle it as well. I didn’t realize until recently the form of “reverse discrimination” that the bullying in my school took. I applaud your decision to shine!

  74. Posted March 29, 2013 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    I can relate to the other side of this story, but the same need to redefine. I never had expensive clothes, or even fashionable clothes. I was horribly ashamed of my existence. I was also a part of a triad of friends, one who drifted away, in what I now recognize to be the same self-loathing, and one who made me walk on the other side of the street to be sure that my unpopularity didn’t tarnish her own image. I loved her. But one day she just abruptly told me she wasn’t my friend anymore. My heart was broken for many years, and to this day I don’t understand what happened, though in our community I still see her regularly. I did blame myself for my ugliness; my social ineptness. I still do. But I realize now as I watch my children grow, that affording those coveted “blue jeans”, my first pair of which were for me a great gift when I was nearly 13, was not necessary to make me good enough. I understand now that I was always good enough, but couldn’t see it, myself. I think I learned from my mother, who always thought of herself last, that I could never be good enough. So in my adulthood I have worked very hard to find the sheer guts to go out among people and not to hide. I don’t always succeed, but I keep on trying. I can’t let this imagined inferiority pass on to my children.
    It’s all about redefining ourselves, even if sometimes it takes generations to make it happen.
    Andrea, what your mother gave you was the gift of innate self-worth. I hope I can give that to my children, too.

  75. Posted March 29, 2013 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    Bravo! Wonderful post!
    The decisions we make when we are young can be so powerful. Sometimes the trick is simply in remembering these decisions…these pivotal moments…in the first place.
    Quite inspiring Andrea. Let us all align with the friends who marvel in how much you can actually shine – happy and excited the bigger you get πŸ™‚

  76. Posted March 29, 2013 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    An amazing post! I was the girl that didn’t didn’t choose the same thing you did. It’s a journey to leaving the racket of insecurity behind, but it is so worth it! Thanks for sharing this. πŸ™‚

  77. Posted March 29, 2013 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    I so can relate to this. And it’s so sad (and also comforting) to see that so many others can too.)

    Your story brings me right back to 7th grade when my best friend quit being my best friend. The only reason I remember her giving me was that she hated when I spent time drawing; she thought I was showing off. Ouch. Funny how it hurts to think about even decades later.

  78. Lisabeth
    Posted March 29, 2013 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    I LOVE this. Yes my story too. Although I can’t tell where it started. Thanks for inspiring me to rewrite it!

  79. Trish
    Posted March 29, 2013 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    yes….where do I write my story?

  80. Posted March 29, 2013 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    beautifully told!

  81. Posted March 29, 2013 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    Shine on!!! You’re lifting all of us. And how do we get the sixth graders to get this?

  82. Manda
    Posted March 29, 2013 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    I relate to this story as many others here do. I am guilty of dulling myself down beyond measure and am finally working through that. I am still having a hard time as an adult, afraid to put myself out there and remaining secretive about many of my life’s greatest accomplishments. I have to say, I see the other side of this too though. It is worthy of mention to all of us, that many of those who planted those seeds of shame in our early developmental years would no doubt go back and change their own behavior if they could. Not all, but I’m sure many, weren’t aware of the profound effect that this would have on our lives. They were just dealing with their own “stuff” in an unfortunate way at the time. I can think of moments in my life where I have pushed others away because of pain in my own life. I imagine it was very hurtful. Looking back, it wasn’t about them at all. It was about me trudging through a painful home life that I didn’t want anyone to see. I wanted to surround myself with people who had a crappy home life too. So I pushed a lot of awesome people with wonderful loving families away. I couldn’t go back now and apologize, so I have to forgive myself and in so doing, realize that I also need to forgive those who didn’t like my brightness growing up. I’ve carried their words with me, making it my story. They surely haven’t. We all learn and grow and hopefully can shed our insecurities as we step into our own true selves. That certainly involves some forgiveness and letting go. Thanks for starting this conversation. And to the young rays of light out there… keep shining! The world needs you.

  83. Isabelle Kinney
    Posted March 29, 2013 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    Thank you and you have given me hope. Hope that one day I will be able to overcome this stage and that I can let myself shine and not let the way my friends glare at me get me down. Because it is already hard for me to bare and I am in 6th grade. Thank you for a next step.

  84. Posted March 29, 2013 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    In Australia we call it Tall Poppy Syndrome, yep it even has a name. You just have to google it to find out how much it’s part of our culture….Andrea you were fortunate that there was one event that highlighted this for you, and could re-wire from there.Thinking back to my primary school years it was so unconsciously ingrained in my peers, or seemed to be, that I was never able to work out why I wasn’t liked….Until much later on.I have done a lot of personal work on this and whenever it comes up for me I think of Marianne Williamson’s writing “Our deepest fear…”

    We are all meant to be great.

  85. Posted March 29, 2013 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    One of my all time favorites Andrea! Oh, how I wish I didn’t live so far away. If we were friends I would drive to your house with tea and flowers and tell you thank you. I’ve always felt this way but have never had the words to explain it. Can you imagine how bright we would all shine if women everywhere knew it was ok to be great!
    Thank you!

  86. Kim B.
    Posted March 29, 2013 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    Oh my gosh. I totally relate. Thanks for the reminders here. πŸ™‚

  87. denise
    Posted March 29, 2013 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

    You know Andrea…I AM shiny! I am smart…I am creative…I have wonderful children…I am thin (aha! and I don’t even work at it!!). And…I do some really terrific things for people. But I never let myself take a compliment without knocking myself down along with it. And, like you, I remember being bullied for getting A’s in school. Heck, I even had a whole college neuro-psych class hate me because I “ruined the curve.” Somehow this has to be a female thing…even though I have so many reasons to be confident and proud…I am far more insecure than I should be! Lessons to be learned….

  88. Posted March 29, 2013 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    Powerful and empowering post. Thank you for speaking this truth. As women we are taught to play small or we won’t be liked and that being liked is what it’s all about. Rather than shining in the abundance of light, we are told to hide and snuff out each other’s brilliance. Well, NO MORE sisters. πŸ™‚ I’m happy to share in this circle of support for you. To tell you to ROCK ON. Take up space. Play big. Keep shining. Loving every second of it.

    This is my favorite quote from the post, “Part of my healing process has been to surround myself with circles of women who want me to be big, who want me to shine, who want me to be the best version of me. They want this because it inspires them, it lifts them up, it gives them permission to be big as well. They want this because they know that keeping me tethered keeps them tethered too.”

  89. Posted March 29, 2013 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing this. After 10+ years of shooting photography, I finally got up the nerve to show my work publicly through a photo blog. I have had both positive and negative reactions to it but I’m sure I would have broken down to the negative ones if I were still in that headspace of hiding my talents and success. But like you said, my story is different now and that’s why I’m ready to share my work with the world. Thank you for sharing your story!

  90. Mollye
    Posted March 29, 2013 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    I have found myself feeling jealous and threatened by others “sparkly.” I don’t usually get jealous, so when I do, its disconcerting. I don’t like how it feels or what it makes me want to do. I try my hardest to keep it to myself, but I know that there is inevitable bleed over. Jealousy and all of its related shit is poisonous to both the person its directed at, and the person feeling it. Thanks for talking about this Brene.

  91. Posted March 29, 2013 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, this is me. I picked up the “hide yourself” message in all kinds of ways, got called “too smart” and “teacher’s pet” and even SINFUL (that was for wanting to make art). I’m now an artist, meaning my need to get seen directly clashes with that script of “Do not outshine,” so this is a constant struggle for me even now that I know what the problem is. Thanks for the reminder.

  92. Jody Anderson
    Posted March 29, 2013 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    I realized my son is already downplaying his achievements at age 5. We asked him what he thinks he’s good at and he had a hard time thinking of anything. He’s in kindergarten and he just read Harry Potter in a week and a half, but he never even came up with reading as an answer. I’m not sure how to turn that around, but looking at how I hold myself back is a good start.

  93. Jody Anderson
    Posted March 29, 2013 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    Forgot to mark that I want notified of comments.

  94. Posted March 29, 2013 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    Do I know what you’re talking about!?

    I was married for 23 years during which I made myself small, so not to shine too much, so as not to “rock the boat!” Imagine living that way…I understand the dynamic. It’s so belittling to all involved.
    Needless to say, that is not my reality anymore. But, when I do catch myself going down that path again (once in a while), I smile at myself and remind myself I don’t need to do that!
    Thanks for such an inspiring post,
    -Romy

  95. Tracy
    Posted March 29, 2013 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    Please let me know where you found these, “circles of women who want me to be big, who want me to shine, who want me to be the best version of me.” Having difficulty with that… my own mother isn’t even capable.

  96. Posted March 29, 2013 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

    To the other Tracy, who wants to know where you find friends who will encourage you: No, sometimes it isn’t your family. I’m blessed not to have that problem, but a lot of people do. Whatever it is you do, or want to do, find other people who are already doing it. Take a class somewhere, join a mushroom-hunting group or a quilt guild or a business league or whatever it is you want to pursue, and meet others who are going for their passions. THOSE are the people who’ll support you in yours. I say this as I am about to head for a friend’s place, another successful artist who pushes me to keep going forward. We met at a business class for artists. These people are out there, and you can find them. <3

  97. Janna
    Posted March 29, 2013 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

    Yes, I have had that problem!! Very recently in fact. I was very very heavy and lost about 100 pounds. You’d think my friends, who are average to slim, would be happy that I was healthier. But it was quite the opposite. They didn’t like that I was receiving positive feedback from men. It was so disheartening and hurtful! I was still the same person, just in a smaller body. But they didn’t like the change.

    I am somewhat baffled as to why some women find it so hard to be supportive of other women. I don’t get the competitive fearfulness!!!

    Thank you for writing this article! It is wonderful that you are able to surround yourself with women who want you to shine!! Keep shining on Andrea!!!!!

  98. Posted March 29, 2013 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

    Love, love, love this post!! thank you for sharing. Having been doing some major rewriting of my own stories, I can relate to this wholeheartedly. We really cannot be the person we want to be when we’re living in an old story and we remain mostly unconscious that we are living out of this story!

  99. Tracy
    Posted March 29, 2013 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    Tracie Thompson,

    I have tried what you are speaking of, but haven’t found support in those areas yet, either. I will keep trying, though. And I appreciate your support/encouragement! Also, went to your webpage and I am inspired by your art πŸ™‚

  100. Posted March 29, 2013 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, this is great. Hit the nail on the head, as i have been pondering lately why the HECK i keep procrastinating, and not writing the book i am supposed to be, completely intending to be, writing. I let my addictions keep me from shining, and yes, it’s a fear of success partly born from a fear of being alone. Easier to be stuck with the crowd of wannabe’s than alone on a pinnacle of accomplishment.
    And what is the addiction that sucks my time and holds me back? The internet. But that’s just where i find jewels like your essay! Should i laugh or cry?
    Thank you!

  101. *karen
    Posted March 29, 2013 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    Thank you. This is just what I needed to hear today.

  102. Loretta
    Posted March 29, 2013 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

    So what’s the secret to ‘writing your own story’? As a writer, I know how to write others’. Where do I start in re-writing my own?

  103. annie
    Posted March 29, 2013 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

    Andrea, thank you for this post. I had your 6th grade experience happen to me, as an adult, just a couple of years ago. Two women, who I had known for over 20 years turned on me after I, (finally), stood up for myself after an insensitive remark was made. I was 53 years old at the time.
    I was deeply hurt, but I realized that they had never really left the 6th grade. And while it hurt for a long time (and sometimes still does), it was a catalyst for me to move on, grow, explore new opportunities and go on adventures and to find “my people.” Through this experience, while I still tend to avoid the spotlight, I am finding out who I am and trying to find the light within me.

  104. Posted March 30, 2013 at 12:05 am | Permalink

    My sister and I were just talking about this. My husband killed himself in December and one of the things that I found myself doing to try to manage his depression was to make myself smaller: to lose when we played games together, downplay my own talents (were were a screenwriting team) so that I could give him more of the credit, etc. The thing is, that’s an exhausting and sad way to live. I even started doubting myself, my own talents as a writer, because I became so accustomed to throwing all of the credit to him. Now I’m blogging about the experience of losing him — and eventually, I hope, about other things — and I’m rediscovering myself as a writer. I miss him and would never have had it happen this way, but I’m not sorry that I’m on my way to being the absolute best, shiniest version of myself.

  105. Breton
    Posted March 30, 2013 at 12:23 am | Permalink

    β€œOur 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.”
    -Maryanne Williamson

  106. denise
    Posted March 30, 2013 at 12:40 am | Permalink

    You know Andrea…I AM shiny! I am smart…I am creative…I have wonderful children…I am thin (aha! and I don’t even work at it!!). And…I do some really terrific things for people. But I never let myself take a compliment without knocking myself down along with it. And, like you, I remember being bullied for getting A’s in school. Heck, I even had a whole college neuro-psych class hate me because I “ruined the curve.” Somehow this has to be a female thing…even though I have so many reasons to be confident and proud…I am far more insecure than I should be! Lessons to be learned….Thanks for your insight.

  107. BettyLou
    Posted March 30, 2013 at 1:35 am | Permalink

    Well yes, I relate. Unfortunately neither my mother nor I thought of the “out shine” explanation that ugly day in junior high. I do know that I spent lots of time hiding and running from success. It’s been nearly 50 years but today I feel better. Thanks.

  108. Sharon
    Posted March 30, 2013 at 1:43 am | Permalink

    Thank you..,in that beautiful place of rewrite! Magic! Blessed!

  109. Posted March 30, 2013 at 2:18 am | Permalink

    I don’t have a specific story along these lines to share, but I completely agree with the adage that we should surround ourselves with wonderful people…we only make each other better in the process.

    Wonderful post!

  110. Posted March 30, 2013 at 2:43 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Tracy. It could be that the place you live is not conducive to the life you want. If the groups you’ve met where you are don’t have positive, energetic people, then I’d say start looking online. I couldn’t put a high enough price on the friends I know because of internet forums. But make sure, when someone does get excited and start throwing ideas at you, that you don’t shoot them down out of depression and “But I can’t because” habit. A lot of people who might have helped me, gave up because I would do that! Had to force myself to bite it back, take a breath, and respond with, “Hm, how do you think I could make that work?” instead of instantly jumping to, “That won’t work for me.” I have no idea if you do this or not, but if you think you might, be aware of it — so when you do meet good people, you’ll have a much better chance of really engaging with them.

  111. Kelly
    Posted March 30, 2013 at 2:45 am | Permalink

    This is my favorite of your posts! This is what I have been working on. I am forty and am finally recognizing that I make myself small to make others feel better. I do this in all aspects of my life. You are my role model for living more authentic life.

  112. Sue
    Posted March 30, 2013 at 2:53 am | Permalink

    Wow. Just wow.

  113. @LeisureGoddess
    Posted March 30, 2013 at 4:26 am | Permalink

    I love to shine. It is how God made me. However, it took me a very long time to understand. When I was younger I was called a “dreamer” as if that was bad; I was told that I was too ___ or too ____ . Your words give me meaning to what it was. Thank you. I learned that others put down our “shine” when they are in their own “fear” or “loss” mode. Is it fair. Oh hell no! I have shed many tears over the years because of their issues.. and not mine. But I still shine on. Thank you.

  114. Amy
    Posted March 30, 2013 at 4:39 am | Permalink

    What I want to know is, what do we say to our daughters who are going through this? What do we do? How do we help them?

  115. Anndre Bak
    Posted March 30, 2013 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    You should all read a book called “Talk Sense to Yourself” by Chick Moorman.

  116. Jo
    Posted March 30, 2013 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    Interestingly I have not had this kind of experience. I was always one of the best at school, at the uni, in sports, arts, but never heard an unjustified, hurtful comment about that. From what I felt, people liked me and were positively impressed by my achievements. I don’t think we have to shine externally to the point of blinding others. There is nothing wrong with being successful and modest, not to cry for attention and expect compliments from others, but rather to be helpful to those that are weaker. I remember, though, some words from my parents that put me down so much. But that always generated a protest in me and I worked on showing to them and myself that they are wrong.

  117. Posted March 30, 2013 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    me too. so tender right now. thank you, andrea.

  118. Posted March 30, 2013 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for posting this, Brene. I, too, experienced this in junior high school, and was reminded of it reading your post. I’ve just published my first book, “The Heart of Healing: Discovering the Secrets of Self-Care.” Your post clarified the feeling of radiant fullness I’m experiencing at 69 years of age since the book’s release this month. Thank you for reminding me that my shining not only feels joyful and Divinely blessed, but also allows others to do the same. This sends ripples of JOY and love into the world, and serves the book’s journey and world healing! Self-care involves BEING as well as doing. With gratitude for your compassionate, loving, and healing presence. You will serve as a reminder when I forget what my heart, soul, and authentic Self always remember. Namaste……

  119. Posted March 30, 2013 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    I experienced this a lot growing up- the shaming for being shiny or different. I also picked up on social cues of having to join in cliques to avoid being the focus of their dulling me. Awful realities of our social scenes. πŸ™ I love how you are surrounding yourself with those that honor your shine and feel I’ve done the best I can to do this too while staying away from those that bring others down. Thanks for this post, Andrea!!

  120. Posted March 30, 2013 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much for writing this. I will celebrate my birthday on April 11, and I will write a poem to myself, for all the talent, skills, and heart I have and put for my life and for the lives of others.

    I was haunted for years for something that happened to me from first grade to fourth grade. The story repeated for years. Now I see it clearly. After years of personal work, and feeling, healing and re-writing my story I can say I AM ALMOST THERE.

    No more guilt. No more worrying about others’ envy, no more managing others but myself, no more believing I am a bad person. AND, lots of more enjoyment for who I am, lots of more good people around myself, lots of more daring to be fully the one I am.

    Andrea, again, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS.
    And thank you to all of the other people who have posted here. πŸ™‚ May all of us shine!

  121. Posted March 30, 2013 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Love this! Thank you! I resonate very deeply with this. πŸ™‚

  122. Posted March 30, 2013 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    Yes. Trying to find my way into a new story but boy does the old one run deep.

  123. Posted March 30, 2013 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    I had a similar incident with a group of 8 “soul” friends about 10 weeks ago. I went through the “Why?” stage for 6 weeks and the pain began to lift. . .very slowly. The pain was akin to total devastation in my life. I wish it weren’t my memory but it is so I am thankful to have read this. Rewriting my own story is the best antidote. . .and I am working on it NOW! Thank you so much for sharing!

  124. Lori
    Posted March 30, 2013 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    I can totally relate to this. I like your perspective. For me, I learned to squash myself in foster homes. I truly feel like I had 18 years of learning how to be tolerable so I didn’t have to move, but not so bright that I challenged their own expectations of me. It still haunts me. In fact right now I am trying to figure out how I can stand up for myself at work without getting fired…

  125. Pt8
    Posted March 30, 2013 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    Ummmm yes. I do have a story like this. Look how many other people do to. Wow!!

  126. Posted March 30, 2013 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    So this post. I read it yesterday and was incredibly grateful that it existed. I am still in the beginning stages of getting my business off the ground and some days I literally say out loud “what is wrong with me? why I am moving so slow, what’s taking so long?”. I realized over time that I have so many limiting beliefs churning in my head on a daily basis and they are really based on the reactions I’ve gotten from various people in my life. Some of the reactions are not even verbal, just behaviours I see towards me. These reactions churn and churn and churn and next thing you know, I’ve got a constant stream of negativity in my head while I’m trying to build my business. Not good.

    I am very aware of what’s going on for me, super sensitive about it and feeling a daily struggle because of it. Then I read this post and the comments that followed … now I know what to do. So now begins the process of rewiring. Creating a new story I tell myself every day.

    Grateful you put this all into words and action Andrea. This work you’ve been doing lately, keep doing. You are helping. Huge.

  127. Posted March 30, 2013 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    Wow — I’m going to echo so many other comments by saying thank you for this. I was VERY good in school when growing up. And I learned very quickly to hide that fact and play it down. While that was a long time ago, I think it haunts me a little to this day and I suspect I have held myself back just a little bit in my business — and it doesn’t make sense to do so! Thank you — nice to know that there are others out there successfully managing the same things. πŸ™‚
    -Cheryl

  128. Posted March 30, 2013 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    …… I also want to thank each and every one of you who has commented. Reading your comments to Andrea’s post felt healing for me. I feel less alone and that is empowering πŸ™‚ Wish you were all my ‘in real life’ friends!

  129. Posted March 30, 2013 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    My take on this is a little different. I think that we are all all-mighty spiritual being when we come into this world, but in order for us to go through our human journey and learn whatever we came here to learn, most of us get our wings clipped in some way during our childhood. This allows us to exprience things that we would not otherwise be able to experience. Then at some point during our adulthood, we start our journey back towards regaining our power. I think it helps to look at these things as a learning process that contributes greatly to our development, and not feel too sorry for ourselves for the things that happened in our past.

  130. Posted March 30, 2013 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    I loved this post, Andrea. I have a similar fear, but for different reasons. I also had a similar friend experience, and I only recently healed from it. Sending much love and empathy. I am so inspired by you and your light and love watching you shine. p.s. I was just going through my posts and I found one I wrote that was related to this. I thought you might enjoy it: http://www.elizabethhalt.com/2012/06/dawning-of-light-vol-19/

  131. Patti
    Posted March 30, 2013 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    -Life changing for me to read this. (It happened to me nearly identically.) With these new insights, from your article, today I can step into my healing -all these many years later. Thank you very much. Much love.

  132. Posted March 30, 2013 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    Oh boy, can I relate to this. I actually “learned” to use improper grammar just so I wouldn’t stand out even more than I already did. I didn’t even realize this was so much a part of my story. Thank you for sharing your story; it is helping me understand more of my own.

  133. Posted March 31, 2013 at 12:25 am | Permalink

    Thank you, Andrea! This piece resonates in very deep and raw places in my heart. I appreciate you giving the feelings words and a place to breathe. *big breath* C.

  134. Posted March 31, 2013 at 2:23 am | Permalink

    Points to your for bravery, Andrea!

  135. Posted March 31, 2013 at 2:33 am | Permalink

    I can so relate to the crime of outshining. Thank you so much for putting your experience out there. My first crime was outshining my mother just by existing. So the rewire of my brain has been a life time project that is still on going but I think I am finally hitting my stride now. I am finally getting to the point where I don’t feel guilt and shame for having success in my life. I agree with you 100% when I shine others shine too.

  136. Ann
    Posted March 31, 2013 at 5:12 am | Permalink

    Your vulnerability touches my heart, and I am so sorry. Today I was thinking about this very thing. My fears of forming friendships, romantic relationships are all tied into the pain of some mysterious thing happening and “poof” the relationship has disappeared. I pull away and grow distant and cold. This story keeps ms from the very thing that I desire closeness, connection.

  137. Natalie
    Posted April 1, 2013 at 2:07 am | Permalink

    Have never commented on your stuff before, but I wanted to let you know that this touched me deeply, and I’ve been sharing it with EVERYONE I know! Thank you for shining so brightly!

  138. Posted April 1, 2013 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    This one brought up a covered sore,for sure! I remember HATING school for the very reason of “mean girls.” They certainly stole my shine, which I didn’t realize until I was older, that was nothing more than jealousy. My mom used to hand-make beautiful outfits for me, but I didn’t want to wear them because they made me ‘stand-out.’ It took a long time for to rise above those years, but at any moment, I can recall that horrible feeling.

  139. Irina I
    Posted April 2, 2013 at 3:23 am | Permalink

    They call it the the tall poppy syndrome and I have been victim of it myself.

    I leave you with this quote by Marianne Williamson: “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.”

  140. Posted April 2, 2013 at 4:54 am | Permalink

    Seriously! This is great, and a message I’ve heard far too many times. If things go well, “don’t get a big head now”, if you get a lot of compliments “come on, you know you’re beautiful.” it is so freeing to be around people who want you to go higher than YOU even dreamed.

    thanks for sharing! πŸ™‚ xx

  141. Tracy Gomez
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 12:07 am | Permalink

    Wow…I know this story, and I am sure that many others do as well. I teach gifted students and I have heard so many versions of this story. The problem is, when you are nine, ten, or eleven years old and have this to deal with, you lack the wisdom that comes with years and life experiences. Maybe I can find a way to share a version of this story that helps my students understand the crime of outshining.

  142. Posted April 4, 2013 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    Hit a nerve! I LOVED this – thank you for sharing!!!

  143. Posted April 5, 2013 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    I still sometimes, oh, hell, lots of time struggle with this. As a result, I spent many years becoming dull and very UNshiny. But you know what? It doesn’t matter, because light is light and it can’t not shine. I am finding that out very clearly these days and I am so grateful for that. Xo.

  144. Posted April 5, 2013 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    man I don’t know if I ever got that. maybe at school I was sneered at for being better at exams. but that didn’t last when I was in classes with cleverer people. I kind of wish I had! shine is my favourite word. it means so much to me. it was a little mantra to myself this year. its my time to shine.

  145. Posted April 7, 2013 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    Interesting, so many comments and we are all on the same path! Me, too, with my Shining Mama Biz that’s just starting and with an “April’s shine challenge” that is in progress:-)
    Andrea, thank you for this article! I related to your story, to all of it, especially because my old story just came up again recently.. I felt like reading my own story, amazing!:-) It goes like this: In high school, I had two best friends that I introduced to each other. One was in my class and we were together in the same two seats bench for 3 years. We 3 eventually ended up doing everything together and going to the same college – and nicely enough we all passed the difficult exam and we were in the same class! The first surprise was that the 2 did not actually expect me to pass the exam and had secretly decided to sit together in the same 2 seat bench. I sat in front of them with somebody else and after 2 years of doing again most of the things together – or so I thought – another exam came and the 2 BF had also secretly taken the exam to another class in the same college, leaving me behind. My conclusion was that I am not worthy of being taken along, that I am not able to keep my friends, that I fail every time… I am working on this already a few years consciously and only this past weeks I decided to once and for all forgive the 2 (one of them recently popped up on FB a few weeks ago). Forgive and let go. Change my story.
    Thank you for the inspiration everybody
    love
    ioana

  146. Posted April 7, 2013 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    Andrea, I have linked your wonderful article in my blog today, I hope you do not mind?
    And as a “funny” thing, I just realized that my number 2 friend’s name was Andrea, Andrea..

  147. Posted April 10, 2013 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    In Australia we call it Tall Poppy syndrome! Aussies are known for taking ‘tall poppy’s’ down a rung or two… Supposedly all in good fun & love, but essentially it’s the same.

    I first experienced it in childhood, before moving to Australia, and it’s had a similarly long lasting effect on my life! My parents didn’t encourage me/ celebrate my outstanding achievements for fear of me ‘getting a big head’… Ironically I could really have done with knowing that I was actually very capable as I felt never good enough! It plays on me even now & my journey into motherhood has been particularly challenging because I never quite feel good enough!

    I’m on the journey to learning that I am competent & enough! And hopefully beyond that to learning its ok for me to shine!!! πŸ™‚

  148. Shellie
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    andrea – your shining/ outshining is like a warm blanket of comfort to me. i love your posts, they are so authentic, genuine & vulnerable! it’s awesome & i love discovering things as a result of your sharing of the superhero things you do. i also enjoy you sharing your experiences of things that don’t go exactly as you’d hoped they would, but yet you still are there ‘in it’ – keeping it real regardless of the outcome! truly awesome!

  149. Posted April 26, 2013 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    In Australia, we even have a name for it – “Tall poppy syndrome”. Get too far above and get cut down! We do it as part of our culture!

  150. GmDenise
    Posted April 30, 2013 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

    I found this post because I typed “what do i do when i outshine my peers” into google. I am currently partcipating in a program that is supposed to be about empowerment for women, but I am finding that I am constantly being counselled to restrain my own talents so that others can shine. And I feel that my classmates resent the things that come easily to me. So I find that, even at the ripe old age of 51, this is an unresolved issue for me. I don’t know how to honour other people but shine with my own light all of the time. Your post really encourages me to shine with all of my light all of the time, and I think I should read it daily until I *get* it. Thank you so much. You and all the ladies who made comments have made me feel less alone.

  151. Helen B.
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    Someone mentioned struggling with this problem at “the ripe old age of 51”. How about 65?! I’ve become cautious about groups I join because I only want to spend time where I can shine my light and see others doing the same! At my age, anything else is a waste of the precious time left to me! My daughter and I appreciated this post immensely!

  152. Jenny
    Posted July 4, 2013 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

    As I read your above message from March of this year I am crying. It is like you reached out and spoke to me. I’m going to be 48 and all of these things hold me back each day. I find you couragous you figured out how to release them and live the life you deserve. I pray one day I am able to do so. I feel close sometimes and want to find my craft my spirit of what I was meant to do, but the words in my head seem to keep me stuck. It is amazing how people/situations/moments can freeze us when they kept walking. Blessings to you and thank you for letting me know I’m really not alone.

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