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Feeling Small

These days I'm allowing myself to feel comfortable being small. I revel in the times when I'm incapable.

That sounds crazy, right? Not so much. Let me explain.

Growing up I was very smart. Some people would say I'm a genius, but that's flattering. In a lot of casual, social spaces, I felt pressured to be “an example.” Very seldom was I allowed to have an off day or not be performing at my best. If I was wrong, I would be put down with, “I thought you were _____.” My community of support at that time had not quite concluded that good people can have bad days. I learned young how tough and impossible it is to try to be "on" all the time. You become more like a machine than a human. You don't form close bonds with those around you, it just becomes transactional and you start to believe your value is in what you can do for them. When you can no longer perform, the relationship dissipates.

If no one knew the answer or could solve a problem in a group, for many reasons, I was expected to either already know, or be the guinea pig and try to guess. Though I appeared confident because I had to, the pressure probably was the beginning of much of my anxiety. No one could see that, though. And for many years people just thought I enjoyed this dynamic. I was labeled a "know-it-all", "teacher's pet," etc. but really they just didn't understand my upbringing.

If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it. -Zora Neale Hurston

Because a lot of my hobbies were rare and allowed me to get good at many transferable skills, for example, I am very computer savvy, I often spent my time helping others get ahead versus just being a child. I was that geek that was always in the house outside of my extracurriculars. I didn't know this was wrong or unhealthy. I didn't even know I was in essence "working," I was just a vulnerable, smart kid wanting to be accepted. A gifted child is seen as equivalent to an immature adult in some spaces; it's scary looking back and actually putting words to things I just merely felt. I even felt at times chastised for this "immaturity," though I was really on par for my age and my peers. What resulted is I became too mature for my peers, resulting in my not fitting in.

No one knew, but I internalized this pressure for many years. It became second nature to never feel the relief of not knowing something. Very seldom could I hand my problems to someone else or give them to someone more capable. What I didn't know, I had to figure out, even if it wasn't correct in the end. This was the life I came to know.

Just recently in the last few years have things finally boiled over and I realized I didn't want to continue this way. I didn't want to continue this front of being invincible. Though it was handed to me, now that I recognize it, I must fix it.

When I visited Colorado in October 2023, my trip host said to me, “Sometimes you need things that make you feel really small.” In our case, she meant the mountains.

Everyone needs moments where they can relax in the bliss that all problems aren't ours to fix. Sometimes things are in fact larger than us, larger than life itself. Some problems are only God's to fix.

“But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.' Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and in difficulties, for the sake of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
-‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭12‬:‭9‬-‭10‬ ‭CSB‬‬

It's prideful and very unhealthy to always feel the need to step up to the plate. To always be a martyr or always be willing to sacrifice is not noble or something to be praised. To a lot of people, it reads, “I don't have problems, and you can continue to dump yours on me." That's toxic for both parties and can lead to major resentment. It's up to you to stop the cycle and change this. You need wisdom to know when to give, but also when you need help yourself. Besides, it IS okay to receive help and expect help in return.

To pull up the problem, you have to acknowledge its roots.

I now am allowing myself to be small. I allow myself to be in the background when it's appropriate. Yes, I am a scientist, activist, multitalented, smart, and all of the things. However, I know at the core of all of that is my humanity. If you can't see my humanity first, then you don't see the other layers of me. If I don't know something and it's not advantageous for me to find out at that moment, then I just don't know. If I can't fix it, I say that. I don't try to appear like this picture-perfect being without her own needs.

My plate is full. This year I want to see everyone win, but I’m not fixing any plates. I have my own spread to work through. In my life now, there’s a buy-in over here, and I know I am a good investment. Life and the Lord taught me that.

This year, I don't want to be on every scene. I don't want to join every group or be in the know with everything. I don't want to check all the boxes. I really just want what's destined for me. That's it, that's all.

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