One of the nuances of shadow that often gets lost in explanations is that the Shadow is any part of ourselves that we have repressed or rejected.
The first traits that often come to mind are those generally considered “negative.”
But our light qualities can also be in shadow.
For me, this “Light Shadow” is the shadow that is calling to be embraced right now.
The Light Shadow
On reflection, I considered…
All the ways I diminish my brilliance.
All the ways I diminish my bigness.
All the ways I have shirked back from my boldness.
The ways I have softened my too much-ness.
All the ways I have been playing small because I fear taking up too much space.
The ways I stay silent because what I have to say often isn’t the “party line” or the thing people want to hear.
I considered all the ways I diminish myself and adapt myself to the cultural norm within different circles in order to fit in, which results in my never quite feeling a sense of belonging.
All the ways I tried to soften myself because of cultural conditioning that a woman should be “softer.”
And all the ways I’ve diminished my contributions, refrained from self-promotion, from even marketing my business.
The Conditioning That Led Me Here
From a young age, I was ~~taught~~ conditioned with the belief that “it’s not “appropriate” to brag.
Good merchandise speaks for itself.
Dear friend, let me assure you: nothing speaks for itself. Things that should go without saying often need to be said multiple times.
I was conditioned to believe that a child should be seen and not heard.
And that it was rude to contradict an elder or person of authority in public. Even if that elder was completely, and demonstrably, wrong.
I was conditioned to believe that being smart and successful were at odds with forming intimate relationships.
And that speaking truth would drive away clients and friends.
I was conditioned to believe that if I’m too smart, too big, too loud, too weird, too “abnormal,” then I’ll turn off people. I won’t have friends.
I won’t fit in.
Fitting in vs Belonging
The thing is, I have never fit in.
I was always at least a head taller than the other kids in my class. And from the time I was old enough to be self-conscious about that, I have shirked back, to avoid being seen.
To avoid standing out.
I developed a fear of my light because to embrace my light means to embrace the differences I have in how I do things. And how I’m not like other people, within any industry I work.
To compensate, I have worked harder than most to try to measure up in conventional metrics, rather than embrace my unique style of working and being.
In my physical body, I have literally folded myself in — curving my shoulders inward to form a shell — so that I wouldn’t stand out from the crowd.
I learned how to fit in with lots of different types of people, to avoid standing out from the crowd.
Standing out from the crowd can expose you to risk. It leaves you vulnerable, and I was conditioned to believe that vulnerability is weakness.
The Irony and Cost of Disowning Your Light
Hiding behind masks, downplaying my brilliance and subduing the various parts of myself, I developed the skill of fitting in everywhere, at the cost of never quite finding belonging anywhere.
If you don’t share with people who you are, you deprive them of the opportunity to get to know you, and you deprive yourself of the opportunity to meet kindred spirits and find belonging.