We all know them. Those people whose energy simply glows over everything around them. They are often pretty, usually smiling, they seem to have the right words readily waiting on the tips of their tongues. If/when they welcome you, it’s genuine. When you call or email or DM, you hope they’ll reply- it would be so affirming if they noticed you! Their lives seem … enchanted.
Since I am a woman, but a woman who couldn’t quite figure out how to move confidently in the world until her 48th birthday, my memory is littered with other girls who seemed to be the epitome of feminine perfection in my limited sphere of knowledge:
M. in third grade- with long, golden hair that she wore in bows and headbands, a cute 1976 wardrobe of Holly-Hobbie-inspired maxi dresses, and a bright smile.
K. in high school- varsity cheerleader, impeccable dresser, genuinely friendly. Everyone’s favorite person.
E. in college- same as K. friendly, smart, a leader. Perfect hair. Probably had 27 literal bridesmaid’s dresses.
S. in grad school- that star that every graduate cohort probably has, every assignment seemed perfectly accomplished, she gathered a group of friends that was propulsive and influential, a dynamic that has continued into postgrad undertakings.
J. in just general adulthood world- pretty, eloquent and clever, everyone’s favorite pal. So smart. So talented. So photogenic.
I always hoped to be:
asked to scale the monkey bars alongside her
asked to sit at her prom table
asked to be a bridesmaid
asked to work on a group project
invited to the birthday party (which I was, score 1!)
And it’s not just the girls and women I have known that are sunshine. I am married to a man who is everyone’s favorite.
I notice a pattern here. I waited to be asked. Always. Monkey bars, weddings, projects; I lingered to the side as if a shadow and waited for an invitation to join the sunlight. But it is shadows and dark silhouettes that make the world beautiful. That make it bearable. That provide rest for eyes and spirit.
I have decided, finally, to make my own light. To sparkle in my own way. I will always be quiet in a room full of noise, but I am more like the lightning bug that flickers as she flies in the warm summer dark than the showy monarch butterfly that catches all eyes as it flutters in the hot afternoon sun. Both are gorgeous.
Quiet is a beautiful and strong thing for a woman to be. I don’t have to roar. I don’t have to blaze. Shine on.
2 thoughts on “Short and Sweet: Of Sun and Shade”
This spoke to me on such a personal level. I am learning day by day to be authentically myself. In order to be heard, I find myself exerting my precense on those around me in a way that is much more flashy than I am naturally. I get noticed, and people seem to enjoy being with me, but the emotional toll it takes is exhausting. I worry with questions such as “Did I give those around me room to speak? Was I too loud? Were they wondering when I would shut up?”
Thank you for sharing your growth as a reminder that, to be beautiful, to be noticed, to be loved, I don’t have to be anyone but myself.
Oh, thank you for sharing your experience, too. I have found that living inauthetically is so draining. It’s exhausting and it makes me sad. You be you.