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Don't Be Afraid of the Light

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“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. 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.”

When I first read these words, quoted in The Man Watching by Tim Crothers, I thought they sounded ridiculous; however, after some reflection on my personal experiences I came to agree with Marianne Williamson. I have always had a powerful drive to work hard in everything that I do, but when I entered high school I was shocked; I was now in a place where this was discouraged by my peers. With high school came more freedom, but instead of using this independence to mature and excel, many of my classmates used it to slack off. I had thought about trying to raise my popularity before, but found that I was generally happier surrounding myself with people who appreciated me than with ones who had the potential to improve my social status. Now, however, popularity seemed to mean everything to nearly everyone. As much as I tried, I could not understand the algorithm for it – it was suddenly cute to be ignorant, cool to be lazy, trendy to cut every corner possible, and endearing to disrespect teachers and school rules.

I agonized over these unwritten rules that newly governed the student body – if I excelled at anything, or even competed at a high level, I would not be fitting the mold and could be ostracized. I valued my friends and did not want to lose any of them, but recognized that that would have to be their choice in the end. I made a conscious decision to not play small and to not let this new paradigm pull me toward my darkness. I would never be afraid to let my musical, athletic, or academic talents show – after all, they were a large part of what made me unique. People who liked me less because of them were not the type of friends I wanted to have. I would work as hard as possible to be the best I could be.

When I first entered the world of post-pubescence and pseudo-maturity, I was afraid of my light, but I took a risk and pushed myself harder than ever before. My friends today are brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous, and are not afraid of good qualities in themselves or others. I am extremely proud of my decision to stand out from the pack and to not be afraid to let my talents shine, and I have come to see the truth in Marianne Williamson’s quote.



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