We were sitting out on the fire escape high above the street with glasses full of red wine. She was a crone with long black hair and looked like the picturesque witchy woman, which she was. We were talking about the city we lived in and the way it has a strange energy to it.
“Don’t ever let them put a blanket over your light” she said.
I’ve thought about those words so many times over the years. Mostly once I left that city. Because, you know what, I had a blanket over my light.
She was so right. I don’t think it was anyone else who put it over me, or the city, I most definitely put it over myself. It was cozy and safe under there.
That blanket has stayed there for a long time. It was heavy, dark and definitely my safety zone. I walked the world with this blanket of fear, afraid to show my light, afraid that they’d tell me:
“Who are you to try to shine like that?”
“Who do you think you are?”
“Don’t try and show off. Just accept things as they are.”
“You aren’t good enough.”
I listened to those voices for a long time.
A LONG time.
Mediocrity was a comfortable place for me. Not letting my light shine was safe and not scary. I was protecting myself.
After a while it didn’t work anymore. Mediocrity is not enough. It was suffocating, sad and stagnant. I wanted more than that.
So I started to believe in myself again, believe that I had something to offer. I didn’t know what it was, especially since I had been hiding my light for so long.
For a long time I had 4 pages ripped out of a magazine taped to my apartment wall which contained these words:
And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
I would read that quote every day. I knew some day it would be worth the risk to blossom. Then the time came and I was wracked with fear.
I gathered up my courage and peeked out from underneath that blanket covering my light.
Hello, hello, hello the world echoed.
Just in case that was just a coincidence, I tried again.
Hello, hello, hello the world echoed back at me again.
Okay. It seemed pretty safe out there. Safe enough to stick my head out and see. It wasn’t as scary as I’d feared. I walked around with my head emerged, still having the blanket around me taking special care to keep my heart protected.
Slowly I let the blanket drift lower and let more of myself emerge. Eventually my heart was left exposed. It beat loudly, adrenaline pumping.
“Cover yourself…this is too much”.
“Are you crazy, I’m wildly exposed here” it said.
So my heart and I had a little conversation.
Having a blanket over your light, suffocating your dreams, is not the love I want to give you. You are worth a better kind of self-love.
Just because I am letting my dreams emerge, it doesn’t mean that I won’t protect you.
It calmed to a regular heartbeat. Regulating and surprised itself by actually enjoying the sun shining down on it rather than being hidden in fear.
The blanket fell further until it wasn’t needed anymore.
I didn’t leave it behind though. Sometimes things are so scary to let emerge that they need blankets, they need to ease into existence rather than jump in full force.
Some days I still need to hide under it. To keep in touch with that part of me that is scared. Fear is an important part of the creative process. There have been times when I hide back under there for a while until it is time to emerge with a new idea or new dream.
It feels so intriguing to me that when I really think about it, my work now teaching self-portraiture e-courses is just this. It is about taking a medium that some people perceive as ‘vain’ and turning that on its head. My work is about helping people pull that blanket of fear off of themselves and giving them tools to allow themselves to shine. It is about creating a community that echos back at you ‘you are so wonderful’ loudly and clearly so you know you are not alone.
As well, sometimes people may try and put a blanket over you and so many of us are experts at putting blankets over our own light.
Just promise me that if you are indeed hiding your light like I have been…that some day when you are ready, you will lift up the corner of it and shout out “hello”. I will promise you that the world will echo back at you.