The sun doesn’t have to think about shining; it just does.

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I remember the day my parents told me we were moving; I was 13. I was relieved. Just the prior week a group of 20 girls rallied and followed me home to beat me up. Thankfully, my sister foiled their plans. It was one of the scariest days of my life. I found out they despised me because I was appointed my grade’s homecoming queen. I got to wear an evening gown and ride down Main street in a convertible with the most handsome boy in our grade. It was glorious.

From that age on, I began to cultivate a false limiting belief that I still battle with till this day. I thought that to be “liked” I had to dim my light. I had to shrink. If I didn’t shrink the mob of angry girls would come back, but next time I might not have my sister.

I remember being in classrooms knowing I had the right answer but keeping quiet because I didn’t want anyone to think I was too smart. I would hide in plain sight, knowing I had the talents and qualifications but allowing my fear of approval to overtake me.

The reason I share is that I know my story is not unique to me. So often women face these challenges at a young age, where we have to choose the type of person we want to become. Do we shrink to make others comfortable, or do we own our unique quirks, talents, intelligence, and beauty by letting it shine?

The latter choice is a road less often traveled. I wanted to share a few truths about “shinning” that I have learned through the years.

I don’t blame the mob.

Thankfully, I had made it to the age of 13 without much thought about shrinking. My parents are awesome in that they encouraged us to shine. However, I know some of the girls in that mob were not as fortunate, and the freedom I experienced in the glow of my identity may have represented a challenge to the bondage they felt in theirs. I know this because I eventually became them by shrinking. When I met other women, who were free and shinning it made me uncomfortable too.  I learned to have compassion.

Acceptance is more about the giver than the receiver.

For years I was a notorious people pleaser, so much so I got the “apple polisher” award as my senior superlative. I believed I could control if another person liked me or accepted me. Being a control freak is exhausting. So I had let it go! People change constantly, and their life experiences determine their view of me- not my controlling ways. It’s far better to work on ourselves and not worry about what others think.

We shine together

On the deepest level of shining we face the overwhelming truth that we are unable to shine alone - it's not just about us. Deeply understanding the importance of all of us realizing our authentic shine; allows us as humans even more as sisters to live better instead of seeing someone else’s shine as a threat to our own. Fully shining is contradictory to being arrogant or prideful; it produces humility because our hearts fully realize how much we need each other to survive.

On this International Women’s Day I want you to begin to unpack any limiting beliefs you’ve held about your womanhood or identity. I want you to think about the moments you shrunk and why. I want you to begin to unpack how you can fully let your light shine. I want you to make time to compliment and encourage another sister’s shine today.

XO
Khaleeqa