We both know you’re not growing or going anywhere in that box. Why are you still there?
Do you remember the plant experiments you did as a child? I’m sure that we’ve all had a version of a “red bean and wet napkin” in a jar. My favorite one was what came after that introduction to my inner Farmer Jane: the plant-in-a-box.
The concept was simple: use a small cardboard box, like a shoebox, oriented vertically. Add in a simple “maze” by cutting a cardboard sheet with a hole on the right and place it midway between the bottom and top of the box. Finally, cut a hole at the top left side of the box, and ta-da, you’ve got your maze. Place a small plant in the bottom-left corner (beans grow quickly, so they’re perfect for this) and close the box with its lid. Ensure that the only place light can find its way in is through the hole at the top. Put the sealed box near a window or in direct sunlight, and only open it to water your plant daily and check on its progress. Soon, you’ll notice that the plant is adapting toward the best possible light conditions by growing strategically through the maze.
Plants don’t need to think twice, nor do they ask for permission. They will find their way to the light by any means necessary because, in the absence of light, they won’t be able to photosynthesize and will eventually die. This experiment came back to mind as I recently saw the above photo from this Kiwico’s DIY Science Projects for Kids. To this day, I’m still baffled by the ingenuity of little beans and their determination to not just survive but fully thrive.
It made me wonder why we don’t take a page from plants’ determination to grow. My question became:
Why do we humans, chock-full of brains and brawn, guilt ourselves into staying in environments that don’t bring us light?
Have you ever found yourself in a “box” that’s completely sealed, without even a hole for light, so you’re left struggling to flourish and blossom? Have you ever then felt like you needed to apologize for your innate desire for more, almost as if it is out-of-place or ungrateful or selfish of you? I most assuredly have, and I will tell you what I had to say to myself:
You serve nothing and no one by being a downgraded version of you.
Allow me to shatter one of the many myths that I’ve witnessed destroying human potential (especially in women), and it has everything to do with how you perceive your desires are being received by others.
If you think for a moment that diminishing yourself makes sense because you don’t want others to feel bad, you’re making a terrible choice. All that will instead do is enable either their insecurities or their fears while disabling your greatest self. Let’s consider those two scenarios.
Enabling the insecurities of others
I know this may be something you already know, but someone else’s insecurities have nothing to do with you. In my experience, insecurities pop up when we aren’t taking the time to process exactly why someone else’s actions/dreams jolt us. If someone else’s fit body makes you feel insecure, for example, it is likely because you haven’t been diligent in pursuing YOUR best body. The anger you feel toward yourself for slacking off and eating an entire cake last night is now projected on someone else who has been putting in work. It also indicates that you aren’t taking the time to accept where you’re at and why you’re there, as it’s easier to shallowly hate on someone else’s life than to deeply work on yours.
The same goes for any moment that is tinted in negativity toward someone we may not even know. The alpha woman at our jobs, the bulked-up cool guy in the gym, the pretty girl in our class, the rich neighbor with all the best cars, the genius who gets concepts at the blink of an eye, the IG profile that seems to display a perfect life … whatever it is that makes us react is a message. Try not to misinterpret what the message is trying to say. ALL of our outward displays are pointing inward. View insecurities as symptoms of a deeper problem, one that needs attention and love. Once you can accept this, you’ll know that if someone is insecure about you, then they’re ultimately working through their inner journey. The best thing you can, therefore, do is continue to work on yours. Don’t take offense or diminish yourself because of someone else’s battle — understanding shouldn’t always equate to compromising. Don’t enable insecurities — theirs, or yours!
If someone is afraid of taking bold steps, they will likely project themselves into your scenario and worry for you too. As odd as it is, their opposition may be coming from a twisted place of care. Think of that time you watched a movie, and there was a scene when someone suddenly stubbed their pinky toe on the corner of a table leg. You probably winced with them, and you might have even grabbed your pinky toe (as senseless as that may seem, some scientists trace this to the presence of “mirror neurons” in our brains). We can’t help but empathize with perceived pain, and in similar ways, we can’t help but project potentially adverse outcomes onto others.
Here’s the catch, though. Reducing yourself only enlargens their fears. Your choice to remain diminished adds yet another data point to their set of reasons/proof why they shouldn’t pursue the light. They perceive that you weren’t brave enough to, and they may not see themselves as strong as you are. They may even feel like your decision is a testament to why their choice to play it small is the right one. You are enabling their fears when you don’t manifest all that you are here to do, and be.
Ready to stop disabling yourself? This is the sign you’ve been waiting on.
If you’re in a sealed box right now with no space to grow, you and I both know that you won’t ever bloom there. It is encoded into your very nature as a human being to bathe in the light of life. I wrote this particular blog because I was once trapped in this exact place, for YEARS, until I stumbled upon the words of others that shook me just when I needed it. I’m here to pay it forward.
If you’ve been waiting on a sign, THIS IS IT.
If you feel like you need permission, THIS IS IT. (You don’t, btw).
If you need reassurance that breaking out of the box is the right choice, THIS IS IT.
And if you need someone to slap the nonsensical, downplaying, guilt-ridden, apologetic dream-killer out of you, consider yourself SLAPPED AND SUCKER-PUNCHED!
So go on, get to the light. And always, always, pay it forward. To paraphrase Buddha: a single candle can light a thousand others while never diminishing its flame. You lose nothing by encouraging others, but the world gains everything it needs for a brighter tomorrow. Someone you know needs to hear this message. It doesn’t have to be this blog, and it may be even better if it’s written directly from you, but the cause remains the same: let’s all do our parts to set the world ablaze.
Here’s your first step: SMASH THE BOX.