“The closer we get to being who we are meant to be, the brighter we shine.” Unknown
There I was, lying on my bed, aimlessly staring at a lamp on the nightstand. It was as if I was seeing the lamp for what seemed to be the very first time.
In that moment, the small bulb in the middle of the lamp drew me in even more because of its unusual shape but more so because of its miniature size. It was no more than 2.5 inches. However, despite its size, it had the ability and capacity to sufficiently brighten the entire room.
As I pondered on how impacting the light emanating from this small bulb was, shining its light in a room that was probably 1000 times its size but still had the ability to influence the room’s content, this song came to mind.
"This little of mine, I'm going to let it shine.
This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine.
This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine.
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine."
I was just about 2 or 3 years old, when I first learnt this song but believe it was only in that moment, I truly understood it’s meaning.
It is my belief that each and every one of us was created unique beings. And I'm not just saying that to make you feel good about yourself. It is a proven fact, that, the you that currently exist, has never and will never be created ever again. This makes you pretty darn unique, won't you say?
On a planet of over 7 billion people, you were purposefully crafted and created uniquely you. All of your features, intellect, abilities, capacity, gifts and talents all contribute to the unique light, you came to share with the world.
While, I am sure you may be nodding your head in agreement, quite often, an individual’s uniqueness isn’t always celebrated. Rather, sameness and uniformity are more commonly accepted.
Individuals who are deemed to be different to what is recognized as the norm, are usually inhibited and ostracized. Persons who dare to step out of the predefined parameters of what is acceptable, are usually judged and condemned for allowing their unique, authentic light to shine through.
This is very evident from as early as our childhood, where children who seem to be different in their behavior, perspectives, choices, convictions and even appearances are often side lined, deemed misfits or are victims of bullying.
Unfortunately, this way of treating with others, isn’t only limited to our childhood but is also a feature of being an adulthood as well.
Throughout most of my childhood, I was teased and bullied. I was always bigger in physical size than most of my peers and my perspective on things were usually different to them. As it turned out, this was an ideal recipe for being a target.
The rejection I experienced from others, led me to believe that something was wrong with me. I began internalizing the criticisms and saw myself as ugly, inadequate and not good enough. Why else wasn't I accepted after all?
This less than favorable experience, coupled with my family's and society’s expectations and demands, helped in shaping me into the person I thought everyone else wanted me to be.
Most of my life was pretty much determined by someone else’s desires, including what degree I studied, my career path, my faith, the places I visited and who I decided to be with. My life was mostly governed by the whims and fancies of others.
Over time, however, I eventually discovered that living as an inauthentic version of yourself, has dire consequences. Soon enough, my unique light began to grow dimmer and dimmer. The affable, joyful, opinionated, little girl, who had a strong desire to help others, eventually, became a reserved, unhappy, angry and mostly depressed adult.
"Living up to an image that you have of yourself or that other people have of you is inauthentic living." - Eckhart Tolle.
This habitual practice of living up to someone else’s expectations of who we should be, is extremely common. Individuals are often bombarded by the overpowering voices of parents, family, friends, religious organizations, society and the media, all telling them who they should be.
Over time, after consistently and repeatedly hearing the same voices, we begin to believe them. And somewhat unconsciously we find ourselves following a prescribed path laid out by others, often at the detriment of our heartfelt desires and dreams.
At first, we may follow along without much resistance or major side effects. However, the longer we stray from our true selves, the more we experience the unpleasant results of unhappiness, frustration and difficulties simply because we are not pursuing our unique path.
After several years of living my life for others and allowing my light to be suppressed, my world came crashing down. It felt as if my being made an executive decision that we could no longer continue on the path we were on.
I had to escape the self-imposed prison I was living in and risk it all. I risked being rejected, disappointing people I loved, loosing relationships I valued and having to start all over.
Once I developed enough courage to walk away from a secure and stable life, therein started the real journey. I spent the next few years, reacquainting myself with the true me, outside of the labels, definitions and expectations of my family, friends and faith.
I must admit, it was terrifying to cut myself loose from what I had known, to explore new and uncharted territory but it was and still is the best decision, I have ever made to date.
Slowly but surely, my life’s landscape began changing. I began discovering and doing more of the things I wanted to do and being more of the person I wanted to be. This change was also accompanied by more joy, satisfaction and peace and the rekindling of my light.
While I’ll admit it was not an easy journey back to myself and one, I believe I still am on, I was and continue to be 100% committed and willing to do what it takes to regain myself and so as to let my little light shine so brightly.
Despite my losses along the way, I’ve managed to create more space to welcome new gains. More happiness, more love for myself, a deeper appreciation of life, new meaningful relationships, the freedom to do things my way, the ability to nurture and share my unique light and the privilege of helping others to do the same.
I believe that it is not a matter of chance that each of us was created with varying talents, capabilities, interests, gifts and desires. I believe that this was purposefully inspired because each person is meant to bring something different and unique into the world, which ultimately adds to the overall beauty and kaleidoscope of the planet.
When we are brave enough to be completely be our unique selves and follow the path of our hearts, life opens up in a dynamic and rich way. Consequently, as we allow our lights to shine brightly, it also helps to illuminate the paths of others, giving them permission to do the same.