Learning to Take Up the Space You Deserve

September 26, 2011

Give me a place to stand and I will move the earth. {Archimedes}

When I was a kid, I curled in. I hunched over, chin to chest, chest to knees. I wore dark colors – you know, things that were flattering for a person of my size. I held my legs close together. I sat on my hands. I struggled to keep myself as contained as possible, imagining myself invisible in a room.

I never owned my own power.

There was no strength behind my voice – statements were frequently couched with polite phrases like, “well it’s only my opinion but..” or “maybe if you approached it from this angle – BUT I could be wrong, of course.”

I felt, deeply, down to my toes that I did not deserve the space that I took up in a room.

I felt that I didn’t deserve your attention.

I felt as though I should be ashamed for being so big – and not just big in my sense of my body – but big in the sense that my thoughts were so expansive, so scary, and my ambition was even more gigantic. I felt ashamed for being who I knew I was, somewhere deep down.

At some point, I realized that I was worth a spot in the world.

I realized that we are ALL worth permitting ourselves enough space to plant both feet firmly on the ground, arms wide, colorful, and gorgeous in our own right.

Learning To FlyAt some point, I realized that I had crippled myself with all that hunching. That no air was getting deep into my stomach. That my spine was coiled from years of feeling like I wasn’t good enough. That my limbs were pale from never be shown unclothed in the sunshine.

At some point, I put on a tight dress, let my hair down, and used my words to tell you that I was beautiful and interesting and funny and imperfect and smart and that I was deeply proud of myself for how amazing I was.

I do not say this to pat myself on my back for being so wonderful, but to illustrate a tendency – as women, as people who are uncomfortable in our skin, as recovering disordered thinkers, as humans – to recoil into the safety of a glorified fetal position, keeping our tenderest bits hidden from perceived judgment, and keeping all of our gifts and talents quiet.

I am disclosing this story to remind you to claim the space that you deserve.

Be big. Be wonderful. Holler about your dreams from the top of the highest tower. Wear colors. Look up when you’re talking to someone. Tell them what you really think. Believe that you are worth being heard.

Be yourself – there is no one else in the world just like you.