I became obsessed with not being the ‘big girl’ in the room. I walked softly, sat still, spoke less, and observed every movement and word from my peers so I could mirror behaviors that would put me back in the good graces of one manager. I slipped so far away from what I wanted to say and how I could contribute, I forfeited any impact at all. How would I explain to my dear father that being his ‘big girl’ was no longer acceptable and I had to shed this identity to assimilate into my adult world?
Fast forward several years more. I met many life experiences with optimism, resilience, adaptability, courage, and determination. From these experiences, I learned that my ‘big’ had nothing to do with being too much for others. In contrast, being a ‘big girl’ has given me the opportunity to experience life in ways that created some of the greatest memories and accomplishments I hold dear today. Ones that make me proud. Dad (and mom), too.
Despite losing a few centimeters with age, I have reclaimed my father’s nickname of ‘big girl’ with how loud I laugh, big I smile, and show up for myself and others. I hold this lesson dear as it also helps with my role as a leadership coach as my clients discover ways to help them foster what they value and who they are, while navigating perceptions of themselves that have been fostered by others.
I encourage you to find what makes you unique and use those terms of endearment and encouragement from others as momentum. There will always be someone out there who will ask you to play small.
Don’t do it. I dare you to be BIG. Be yourself.