Don’t Let Others Project Their Limitations On You
“Some n-ggas recognize the light but they can’t handle the glare.”
That’s a line from a song by rapper/actor/activist Common called “The Light” which I fell in love with on first listen. This line in particular stood out to me because it so poetically described how people can be intimidated by your energy, your life, and your success.
One thing I’ve noticed in my 37 years of living, is that intimidation takes on many forms. Some people completely ignore you, some try to befriend you and make you like them, and some turn into Regina George (Mean Girls reference), seeing you as a potential threat and usijng their intelligence and social influence to lie and manipulate others. These people aren’t comfortable unless someone is admiring them. They suffer from what I like to call ASB: attention seeking behavior. They have an excessive need to be worshiped and have no problem exploiting others if it fits their agenda. Deep down they are depressed because they feel like they aren’t living up to their “greatness” and they become envious and arrogant when confronted by the success of other people.
You know the type. The person who, when you become an entrepreneur, congratulates you on “your little business.” Or tells you “you’re doing too much” after you lose weight and start dressing different. They might even have the nerve to say, “You looked better with more weight on you.” They try to manipulate others around you. “Have you seen so and so lately? Ever since she lost weight she switched up; acting funny and wearing all those extra tight clothes and stuff now.” If you want to move and start a new life, they tell you all the reasons why it won’t work. These are the lighter dimmers, the haters, the frenemies, and the folks your mamma warned you about when she said: “those ain’t your real friends.” So what should you do when you come across people like this? Remember that no one has the right to tell you what you can’t do. That you’re not good enough. That you need to be realistic. The unfortunate reality is there will always be pessimists in your life to warn you of your imminent failure, especially if your dreams are their dreams, too. But just remember this: When someone tells you that you can’t achieve something you want in life, it’s more a reflection of their own limitations than yours.
When I chose a new career, I had older co-workers tell me I wouldn’t be able to get a job. When I wanted to start my own business, I had people tell me it wouldn’t work because people are racist and sexist and wouldn’t want to work with a Black woman. When I said I wanted to write for an international publication folks said I hadn’t been writing long enough for that to happen. Guess what? I have that career, my own LLC, and you’re reading the words that I write on an international publication. So in the words of NeNe Leakes….BLOOP!
The next time you find yourself doubting yourself because of what someone has said, take a good hard look at your relationship with that person and ask yourself why they are still in your life. They say that we become the average of the five people we spend the most time with. So ask yourself: Do the people I surround myself with lift me up, or down? Birds of a feather flock together, right?
Explore these questions: Do they doubt my abilities? Do they rell me I’m doing too much? Do they tell me my dreams are stupid or unrealistic? Or do they encourage me to do take a risk and do it big? Do they have big dreams of their own? Although you can still achieve great things with naysayers in your ear, imagine how much more you could achieve if everyone around you was encouraging you instead and telling you to never give up.
The next time someone tries to dim your light, think of this quote from my best friend in my head, Taraji P Henson:
“I’m just scratching the surface. I’ll be 47 this year… They told me I was crazy for moving to California at 26. [People said], ‘you’re too old’. What?! Well, what am I now? When people tell you [negative] stuff, that’s their fear. Don’t let them project that. Duck and dodge that because that doesn’t belong to you.”