This Is For The One Who Grew Up Feeling Small

Why is it that we were taught to make ourselves small for the sake of fitting in? I wonder why we grew up believing that commemorating our wins was boastful or that announcing good things was bragging. 

I wish we weren’t told to keep our successes hidden to avoid being overbearing. And I wish we weren’t hushed the moment our accomplishments were heard out loud. Because how sad it is that you wanted to celebrate feeling fulfilled, only to be taken down by being told not to be full of yourself?

I remember getting an answer right and then instinctually making my body small so no one would notice where the answer came from. I remember trying to dim down my light anytime it got too bright. And I remember how when I found myself in adulthood, negotiating for what I was worth was so difficult because I had spent years trying to hide what made me worthy. 

I remember how walking through offices felt like walking through the halls of high school—do good without attracting too much attention. Smile, but not too much. Laugh, but not too loud. Ask, but not too often. And so isn’t it ironic that we all grew up so desperate to be seen? 

So, beginning now, I am turning my brightness all the way up, raising my hand for all to see, making noise, and celebrating every step of the way without being told to lower my voice. I want to make up for lost time and take up space for every time I didn’t. And I want to show others that it’s okay to do this without feeling yourself instantly get smaller. 

And should I be lucky enough to have a daughter, I want to teach her that self-esteem isn’t self-conceit, that celebrating isn’t boasting, and that taking up room isn’t pretentious. I want to teach her that she owes it to the world to show her full potential. 

Because wouldn’t it be nice to raise a new generation that grows up being seen? If we did that, imagine what changes we would see.

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