I've spent more than four decades listening to the message that I'm too much. I'm too loud. I talk to much, and the volume of my voice is excessive. My words tumble out too quickly, from my mouth spills an unrestrained excess of locutions. My writings are too long, my verbal answers immoderate. I have entirely too much to say, and I'm much too confident in how I say it. It's off-putting, really. All of those words, phrases, ideas, shared so openly. A bit grotesque, frankly.
I'm too curious. I ask far too many questions and am indiscreet in pursuing the details that will allow me to deepen my understanding of a person or situation. When I want to know something, I just ask. That seems to me the most efficient way to gather information, but this aspect of me is also too much. Why must I always seek to understand? My desire to expand my knowledge is quite indelicate. It would be much more comforting (or conforming) if I would simply affect a vapid smile and enjoy the bliss of ignorance.
I'm too direct. I don't sweeten my words enough; I'm harsh. The simple expression of my truth is too difficult to process. I should really use some of that flowery language here, build a beautiful bush to beat around, something lovely and lilting in which my original intent could be easily lost. I would be ever so much more palatable this way. My direct style of communication is bossy. I am, I have been told, a bitch. To simply say what I mean is truly exasperating, bellicose. I lack subtlety; it's shameful.
I have too much energy. Other people find me intimidating, exhausting, overwhelming. The air pressure shifts when I walk into a room. I move too much, think too much, and spill entirely too much juju into the space around me. I leave a wake, like a contrail, that makes other people feel unsettled. My boundless spirit needs some boundaries. The rest of the world would be ever so appreciative if I could tone it down, more than just a bit.
I'm too emotional. My reactions are too extreme; too much loud laughter, too many tears. Perhaps I talk too much because I am always sharing how I am feeling. Less of that would surely be more decorous. All of these unseemly feelings lead to far too many opinions. I have a position on just about everything; how embarrassing. The devil has FedExed me business cards listing me as his official advocate. There seems to be nothing I am unwilling to challenge. Utterly unbecoming.
I am, quite simply, too much--too beaucoup. Or so the outer world has been trying to tell me for many years. The message comes from many directions, delivered in various packages and with various intents (many of which are meant to be kind and loving). Scale it back, they say. Quiet down. Stop expecting so much. Please...because other people are getting uncomfortable. You're rocking the boat, upsetting the balance here. There are rules, and you are failing to follow them. There is a list of "shoulds" here, and you're not checking them off. There is a path, and you're not walking on it. Other people are noticing. They're bothered by your lack of check marks, your footprints in the grass. The way you thumb your nose at the rules is upsetting to them. So, if you could...just STOP.
This message was first delivered to me early in life. I always received high marks in school, but my elementary school report cards invariably read: "Debbie is a good student, but talks too much." I was oft-accused of distracting other students, disrupting the classroom. At one point they shifted me into advanced classes. Good for my intellect...but also for keeping me quiet. I was a precocious child of high intelligence, so I wasn't misplaced in these programs. But looking back now I wonder, how much of the motivation was based in supporting my intellect and how much in corralling my energy?
It hardly matters now. Quieting my voice and containing my energy were no longer issues by high school. I'd learned my lesson well--showing up full of ideas and energy is likely to get you shot down like a B52 over enemy territory. Best to keep quiet and fly low. I participated in zero sports, clubs, or teams in high school. Most of my friends were older than me, already out of school. While I shared my creative writing and traded favorite novels with them, exploring the voice that I was given and recognizing where I saw it reflected in the world, I rarely opened up to my direct peers. I was clearly too much for them--too smart, too studious, too unimpressed by clothes and cars, too weird and too wired. I saw no reason to ask the questions to which I already knew the answers.
By the time I left high school, the shame of my bigness was already written on my soul. As with so many childhood wounds, it settled in my subconscious, and I continued to grow into a young adult without realizing how often I failed to participate in life as my full self. Relegated to my shadow, my big mouth and big energy did find unhealthy expressions. My unrecognized voice spoke over others, my directness straddled the fence into hostility, my opinions crowded out other viewpoints, my emotions struggled to be expressed and festered into deep depression.
As I began to dive deep into personal development, these imbalances slowly came forward, offering themselves for healing. I have learned how to make space in my world for differing opinions and how to understand that not everyone experiences life on the super-sized terms that I do. I'm learning to speak softly when the moment calls for gentle speech, and how to manage my own emotions without always having to share them outwardly. It's no surprise that, as I bring bigness from my shadow into the light, I am hearing that same old message again...
Could you please quiet down? Your emotions are too much. You think too much, ask too much, talk too much, want too much. Today I realize, this message is unlikely to change. I AM a lot. I do talk a lot. I have a loud voice, and there's plenty I want to share with it. I have a huge laugh. If I find something funny in a public place, you're going to know about it. I cry often, I love deeply, I am easily distracted by frustration or anticipation. I enjoy sharing my opinions, and learning about yours. I do have a huge energetic field. If you're empathic and your shields aren't up when we meet, you're gonna get some on you. I flash that Devil's Advocate card with pride. Part of my purpose in this life is encourage people to question what they believe to be true. (Interestingly, I was aware of this even as a teen, when I used to say if I left a room and at least one person in it was scratching their head and wondering what had just happened, I had done my job.)
I can't be anything but a lot. It's how I was made. So the messages aren't going to change. What has changed is that I'm no longer listening.
Because what I've figured out is that nothing is wrong with my bigness. My voice is loud, not too loud; my feelings are big, not out of control; my energy is huge, but it is not extreme. What this world has tried to wring out of me by twisting and squeezing me to fit into the typical lady-shaped box is not a handicap; it's a gift. It's MY gift. It's my power. All of these supposedly over-the-top aspects of me are the tools I was given to do my work in this world.
I feel so deeply because my job includes understanding the emotional issues women are facing and helping them find solutions to balance their inner worlds. Without the amplitude and frequency of emotion I've spent years feeling, I would be less able to feel along with them, to deeply understand their emotional experience in this world. This understanding is key to leading my sisters in healing, and their healing is, in turn, the foundation of resurrecting humanity.
I have huge energy because I have a huge calling. I am here to do huge work. My soul path is not for the meek, the unassuming, the wallflower girl who just hopes your eyes will fail to notice her as you pass by. I am here to do nothing less than dismantle the social systems that have ruled humanity for thousands of years. I'm not here to accomplish this Herculean task alone, but neither am I here to follow other change makers. I am here to lead, from my own center and my own truth. This is no piddling undertaking, there's no copy of Overthrowing Patriarchy for Dummies I can highlight and dog-ear. I'm here to shatter the existing bedrock of humanity. To frack that deep requires a tremendous amount of energy, which is just what I've been given.
I was equipped with this big voice because I am here to speak. My mind is strong and my opinions solid because my messages will not always be well received. What needs doing (or undoing) in our world cannot be done with a whisper, a gentle suggestion. Now is not the time for a committee meeting where we gather suggestions written in tidy cursive on pink stationary. Shouting is in order, bonus points to be given for the artful use of foul language. In this time of transition, a mind easily swayed would be just that--swayed, pulled back to the current ideology, back into the mess in which we are currently living. A resolute mind is required here, one unmoved by the opinions of others, true to its cause without faltering.
I'm not too much. I'm just enough. Just enough to fill my role, to do this thing that I am only beginning to understand. Just enough to play my part, to call for the spreader and crack open the chest wall of our society, just enough to reach in, bloody to my elbows, and repair its broken heart. I am just enough to draw my sisters and brothers in around me, just enough to lead them forward into a future we will have to create in our imaginations, to bring to life through our minds and hearts. This bigness of mine, that leaves so many people feeling challenged and uncomfortable, is just enough to help create a humanity we've never experienced before. So if I'm too much for today, stick around. Because I'm just enough for tomorrow.