I did a thing recently — I published a poetry collection.
I did the writing and editing.
I researched a program to typeset it.
I learned how to create a cover.
I went through the process of self-publishing.
I’m currently in the process of marketing.
None of these things are part of my day job. Everything I learned throughout this process was new and terrifying and something (most of the time) I convinced myself I couldn’t do.
If there is one thing most of us are really good at doing, it’s telling ourselves we can’t do something.
The one thing I’m good at, in fact, I’ll argue I excel at, is making myself small. Making my hard work, my achievements, my goals, and my dreams small. Because the smaller they are, the less likely people will notice when I fail and the less painful it will be for me. Does this sound familiar?
Why do we do this?
Not as in why, with three w’s and an exasperated question mark and several exclamation points — why as in literal reasons.
Before we answer why let’s talk about how we do this.
Apologizing when there is nothing to apologize for
Guilty as charged. You know the person who adds ‘sorry’ to the end of each sentence leaving their mouth. The person you tell to stop saying sorry and who instantly apologizes for over-apologizing?
Saying sorry when there is no offense to be forgiven is you making yourself small. After all, what are you really apologizing for? Existing?
Why do we do this? I’d ask you to evaluate who you’re in conversation with most often when you’re apologizing. What is your relationship like with them? Is it a healthy relationship, or does it err on the side of toxic?
If you feel like a nuisance when you’ve done nothing wrong, take a moment to ask yourself why you feel that way. Perhaps through words and actions that person has made you feel this way.
Have a conversation with them, communicate how they are making you feel. The way they respond to you, with understanding and active listening, or with irritation and gaslighting, will answer what type of relationship you have. P.S. - You deserve the former.
Not asking for what you want
What would you do if you ordered a steak well-done and it came out looking like it was fresh from the farm? Maybe instead of sending it back, you would push it around your plate and decorate it with those sautéed mushrooms you were never going to eat.
The wait staff asked you how you would like the food prepared that you are paying for. You, my friend, are not out of line for asking what you want. I overcame this exact scenario this week (well, not with the steak).
I was fortunate enough to have someone download my book, whose opinion I greatly respect. She let me know she’d finished reading and enjoyed the work, so I asked her for a review:
“I hate to be a brat for asking, but if you have time and don’t mind.. can you add your review to Amazon and/or Goodreads. I hate asking.. but this is the year of me asking even though it’s uncomfortable.”
Oh yeah. That was painful to ask, but I did. I chose to ask for what I wanted, and shocker, she was more than willing to provide a glowing review.
Why did I do this? I didn’t feel my work was worthy of praise, and what I actually mean by that is I didn’t feel worthy of praise.
For such a long time I’ve made myself small by having an inner dialogue that says you are not enough, you are not worthy enough, people only say kind things because they are trying to be nice.
Try flipping the script on yourself. When you interact and compliment others on their achievements, where is it coming from? Do you say it because you want to be nice, or do you say it because you truly mean it?
When I enjoy something, I am sure to be vocal about it and let those involved know how wonderful it is. I know my motives, so why is it so hard to believe others feel the same towards me?
This interaction is actually what inspired these words I share with you now.
For those of you who have mastered owning your greatness — kudos, and please share all your secrets. But for everyone else, I pray you don’t go through life making yourself small.
You do not need to apologize for existing.
You are in this place at this moment in time for a reason.
The world needs you.
You are worthy of what you ask for.
You are not an inconvenience. You matter.
If you have lived up until this point making yourself small, it’s time you recognize your greatness; yes, you. As a person who is recovering from a lifetime filled with these thoughts, I promise that believing in yourself unlocks incredible potential.
It isn’t always easy, but one thing is certain… You are worth celebrating.