It’s an interesting phenomenon, returning from a trip that was so incredibly important in my own personal and professional journey. What I find so interesting is my hesitation to share that I was in South Africa. It feels like such a privilege that some people may judge me based on my ability to take the trip. I haven’t figured out how to say that I was in South Africa without feeling uncomfortable. It’s such a big trip, a long way to go, and something that so many do not experience, and people may make assumptions. I know when I was in Cape Town, at the froyo cafe, when I confirmed I was from America, I was asked if I could financially help this man get to America. When I’m here in California, eyes get big when I say I have been in Cape Town. There is often the assumption that I have great financial stability. I often explain that I went with a class, that I took out loans, and that I raised money with the support of very generous friends and family. I have wanted to travel to African countries for many many years and haven’t had the finances to explore that dream.
Buy why am I feeling guilty? It makes me uncomfortable to think that others will assume certain privileges and that I was given this wonderful opportunity. Why should I worry what others think? But I do and it’s deep in my gut. I am reminded of Marianne Williamson’s quote that Mandela made popular:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us” (Williamson, p. 190-191).
And the quote continues:
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? …Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. …It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others (Williamson, p. 190-191).
I do find myself afraid that my shine will be perceived as something other than my intended happiness and passion. But why? Why would I, or anyone, be afraid to show our light? This is my path, one that empowers me and challenges me. I find it a compliment when I hear how I “light up” when I speak on certain subjects. And I am drawn to others whose enthusiasm is bright – it’s contagious – what a beautiful “contagion” to share.
My challenge is to find a way to balance feeling privileged in my opportunities and bright with the experiences. I will hang on to this quote, as I have been thinking on it for a while now. I want my glow to empower others and to connect us. It may and it may not. And in that, is another challenge. There will always be those who don’t understand our light and that’s part of the journey – learning to let my shine be bright even around those who may not understand it. And to continue to liberate myself and others in finding the strength and security in our growing passions.
Williamson, Marianne. A return to love: reflections on the principles of a course in miracles, Harper Collins, 1992. (Pg. 190-191).
(Inspired to share after reading Christine’s post.)