When I was in my mother’s womb, she talked to me every single day.
Before I made my grand appearance into this world my mom would take time to make sure that while she had me inside of her, I heard that I was loved and adored. She spoke this to me every single day for nine months, and I have finally been able to hear it for the past twenty-one years.
Her favorite thing to say, whether I’ve just told her about an accomplishment, someone compliments me in front of her, or when I need a reminder of who I am is “I knew you were brilliant before you were born.”
Not “kind of smart.” Not “good in some areas and bad in others.” Not “wiser than the average person my age.” But just downright brilliant. And since this was coming from my own mother, I believed her. But that didn’t stop me from scaring me every single day.
I knew what brilliance looked like. Brilliance looked like innovators that I watched on TV every day, creating new content that people would enjoy. Brilliance was more than a single act; it was a lifestyle. I knew people who were brilliant and things that inspired brilliance. But for it to be ME was something that shook me.
People say I’m amazing. They tell me that I’m so talented, full of promise and that I’m destined for greatness. But the reason that this scared me so much is because I know that brilliance and excellence are habits, and I couldn’t fathom that I had the power of making greatness a habit. I was certain that I would fail and be so much less than what people expected of me.
So what did I do? I played small. I wrote pieces in my notes and would send them to just a few friends, rather than share with the world. I didn’t apply for everything I wanted because I didn’t want to seem as if I was “doing too much.” I stopped writing for months at one point because I felt as if I had reached my highest peak and didn’t want to seem as if I was now performing at a lower rank. The words I should have turned into encouragement were words that I allowed to haunt me. “How am I brilliant if I failed so hard today? There’s no way I can do this, I’m not THAT smart. If they really knew me, they would see that I’m not all of that. I’m just okay.”
I said that I did this to avoid disappointing others. But looking back, I was really doing this to avoid disappointing myself. I would rather conquer my safety zone where I told myself that I belonged, than to take a chance at the greatness that everyone encouraged me to reach. Leaping was something that I feared and that I knew would require risks I wasn’t ready to take. So I stayed put, forcing myself to be content with mediocrity rather than leap for greatness because I knew that the distance was so much further, and I was sure I would fall into the gap in-between.
It took years for me to give myself the chance to truly be great. But Lord Have Mercy, once I did… the results are things that I can’t even type into words. Believing in my greatness has taken me to places I never thought I would have the chance to go. I realized that I was deserving of people having faith in me, and of me having that faith in myself. If I could spend so much time believing the bad things that people say about me, why couldn’t I spend time believing in the good?
I have always said that the world believing in you means absolutely nothing if you don’t believe in yourself. Because I didn’t see greatness in me, I never believed it when people told me that they saw it. Being what people think I am is often scary because not only am I worried about disappointing them, but I also fear disappointing myself. But once I began to allow myself to believe that I was great and that I could do everything that people said I could and more, I gave myself the opportunity for greatness. Sometimes, what people say you are isn’t even bad. And, it may something you should actually believe that you can be.