Becoming the person you want to be in the world is an ongoing process that takes time and work and self-reflection and sweat. And the process is daily, if not hourly, to keep that person in view – to cherish, encourage, and pull that self up when doubt and fear encroach. Sometimes it can feel precarious. Other times, that light is burning so brightly, even the cat needs shades.
Then along comes someone who decides your light is shining just a little too brightly; someone who isn’t comfortable that you got the attention, the accolade, the promotion, the award; someone whose own value in the world is determined not by themselves, but by what they see others as having that they don’t. And that little (or gigantic) sparkle of yours is just a bit too much for them, and out come the poison darts of envy.
Unmitigated jealousy wreaks havoc. I can think back to a girl in high school who so coveted popularity that she passively-aggressively tore others down to boost herself up. When it was aimed at me, my options were to fight back (which I was hopelessly bad at) or hide, or make myself smaller and less noticeable so that she’d leave me alone.
In the case of an adult friend, there was a female executive in her organization who saw her as a little too smart, well-dressed, and threatening, and blocked the upward path on the corporate ladder.
Or maybe the envy darts come from family; a cousin or in-law who believes there’s an unwritten family competition for the love and adoration of other family members, and any lights that shine too brightly must be metaphorically dimmed.
If your command of bad-assery is such that you can shrug off the poison darts of envy and own your place on this planet, amen sister (or bro!) But if you’re a sensitive sort, you might choose to absorb those arrows and hide, dress down, and reduce yourself so as not to intimidate “them”, or to keep the peace.
But consider this question. Does kowtowing to the arrows of envy serve the target, the archer, or anyone else? It seems that diminishing one’s self only serves to validate the other’s viewpoint while at the same time rendering you helpless to their moods and whims.
Here’s a newsflash…Showing up in the world as *you* is not a crime.
Those who recognize your goodness and gifts are your pathmates. If you need to create distance from the archers, then do so. But do not dim that light just because it’s too bright for someone else. There are far too many places of darkness in the world that need your bulb at full volume. Well before seeking the U.S. presidency, Marianne Williamson famously asked, “’Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous’? Who are you not to be? There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”
Without a doubt, it hurts like a mofo to find yourself in someone else’s radius of self-loathing. From my experience, it seems the only viable option is to acknowledge the innocence and goodness of your own light then and there. And then if possible, turn toward the archer directly or indirectly, and acknowledge their uniquely bright and beautiful light. It is there simply by virtue of the fact that they’re alive. And maybe for a moment, they will recognize in the mirror you’re holding up, their own forgotten brilliance. Because perhaps ultimately, that’s all they were seeking in the first place.