Not Playing Small

 

A theme has appeared over the last few days between conversations at conventions and with those in my circle, and it all seems to stem from the thought of “not playing small”, with the strengths we have.  What I mean is taking the talents or perspectives you have and stretching out with them, even when you’re not sure if this might out shine others around you or upset the norm.  It doesn’t mean being boastful or as parents artificially pumping our children up by telling them they are good at everything, but in fact getting them to recognize the strengths they already have and putting those into action in a bigger way.

Take for instance the counselors I met the other day at a convention who proceeded to tell me about the students they have who they know have great skill sets (photography, drawing, math) but don’t value them because those around them don’t, so they’re hanging back not following up or taking extra classes or gaining experience with them. On the opposite side, they then believe they have nothing to offer and no starting points to connect possible life / work paths to.

When we authentically move our own passions, loves and natural abilities forward, we have a way of making things better for ourselves and others.  Where things can run into trouble for young people is when they either hide the talents they have so as not to attract attention, jealousy or comment from those around them, or when they spend so much time trying to be something they’re not, that it lands them in a feeling of overwhelm.

Is this a balancing act, you bet, and as parents it’s our job to ensure that they learn lessons about resilience and sticking with things when they feel hard, but also helping them see the value in the things they are naturally good at and come easily to them, in order to highlight their best parts, even when it might make others feel temporarily uncomfortable.

It’s that age-old lesson in surrounding yourself with people who want to see you succeed, no matter what you excel at.  I for one believe we need to begin early instilling these lessons in young people so they stay connected to the paths that matter most to them, despite possible bumps in the road.

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