You Are Not Too [Fill in the Blank]! You Are Fabulously, Authentically You.
In a recent conversation with two friends from high school, one of the friends mentioned that she has been told she is “too sensitive” by some people around her and it hit a nerve.
My reaction was not at all negative towards my lovely friend; I thought to myself, “You too?”
The three of us have a running chat and hearing from them always provides me with friendship based on the kind of understanding that comes with knowing one another for so long. In a world where social media and the internet can be toxic, I love our little niche of joy where we catch up, can be ourselves, and feel connected. I have come to rely on them both in more ways than they realize, and I am grateful to have them as part of my inner circle. As the other member of our trio reminded us, we are our own little family there for friendship and support.
None of the three of us is “too anything” for the others.
When my friend mentioned that she faces criticism for simply being who she is, my heart sank twice. Once for her because she is my beautiful friend whose sensitive nature makes her wonderfully kind and authentic. It sank again because I know exactly how that label feels having been told the same thing over and over throughout my life. I should not be surprised that we share more commonalities than I originally realized but hearing her share her experience hit me deeply.
I have been told that I am too sensitive. I am also too “Jersey” for some people’s tastes. I am too blonde, too ambitious, too educated, and the pitch of my voice is too high. I have come to see that I am simply too much for some people.
I could fill a book with all the labels that have been thrown at me.
The truth is we are always too much for somebody in some way, but the question is why others feel they have the right to criticize us for being exactly who we are?
How often have you been told you are too something-or-other for someone else’s tastes? Too pushy, too quiet, too short, too thin, too tall, too curvy, too loud, too outspoken, too this or too that by someone you know. If you are like me, I am sure it has been more times than you care to admit.
I am not kidding about the “too Jersey” label.
I worked with a woman from California who wrinkled her nose at me as she pronounced that I was “So Jersey” pointing to my state of origin because I referred to going to the beaches of New Jersey as “going down the shore”, per the local vernacular. I was unsure if she was categorizing me as someone akin to the cast of the “Jersey Shore” television series (I am not) or perhaps she was referring to my accent, or even something else. While I should have responded with a tart remark, I was so taken aback I kept silent.
Somehow, by being authentically me with my New Jersey accent and colloquialisms, I was a problem to her sensibilities. Of all the labels thrown at me that one still stands out for how ridiculous it was.
Because the truth of the matter is that neither you nor I are not “too” anything. If someone labels you is it true or is it actually their problem that they are throwing on you? My bet is on the latter.
Anyone who says otherwise is trying to shame you into accepting their bad behaviors, harsh judgments, and inability to understand you for being you. Dr. Phil refers to these types of behaviors as leveling: someone needs to feel better about themselves, so they either push you down or puff themselves up to achieve their goal. Once I understood and embraced this concept, it helped me to see how many people engage in these behaviors.
As I proceed through life and see some of my traits in my son, I have come to realize that we are a lot alike in that we feel things deeply in a visceral way. We are what I call “absorbers” meaning that when we are around chaos, negativity, or aggressive people, we struggle to the point of feeling claustrophobic in an emotional sense.
Turns out, we are not alone. I think there are more people like us than we realize, such as my dear friend.
And yet, time after time, when dealing with such individuals they turn it around so that somehow, we are the problem for being uncomfortable with or feeling angry and invalidated by their behaviors.
And therein lies what makes these comments so toxic and harmful: you absorb the barbs, the petty insults, the dismissiveness, and then you internalize them. You express yourself and are told you are wrong.
Newsflash: you are not wrong for being who you are. Let me share a few important truths that I hope makes dealing with these situations easier:
You are not wrong if someone else hurts your feelings. It may be a simple misunderstanding, but your feelings are valid.
You are not at fault if someone dismisses you for being yourself. You were made to be exactly who you are.
You are not a problem because you do not fit into someone else’s definition of who you should be.
Before you second guess yourself, rather than absorbing the negativity someone else throws your way, remember that we were born to be perfectly imperfect. None of us are perfect, but we are not supposed to live up to the world’s idea of who we should be. Instead, you were created to be authentically you. Sensitive, loud, brash, bossy, whatever labels people throw at you, know that they are missing the point of what makes you who you are.
In a world riddled with inauthenticity, being yourself is an act of courage and strength that is commendable.
There is a quote from Marilyn Monroe that has always resonated with me, “I’m selfish, impatient, and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and sometimes hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.”
I think that is wonderful advice for each of us.
Tune out the ones who seek to label you. Push aside those who dismiss or diminish you. Lean into who you were made to be, including those traits that others may say are somehow negative. Speak your truth and if someone refuses to accept all the parts of you, good, bad, otherwise, they don’t deserve you. Pick up your fabulous self and move forward, leaving those labels behind.
I am highly emotionally sensitive. I am ambitious and yes, sometimes I do sound like a girl from New Jersey, accent, and all. Sure, I may be too much for some people, but I do not see this as my problem.
As e.e. cummings reminds us, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
Surround yourself with family and friends who become family because being authentically and wonderfully you is a gift to yourself and the world.