04 Apr


"As children, we were afraid of the dark. Now as adults, we are afraid of the light. We are afraid to step out. We are afraid to become more."

Andrews, A. (2008). The Traveler’s gift: Seven decisions that determine personal success ; mastering the seven decisions that determine personal success: An owner’s manual to the New York Times bestseller The Traveler’s gift. Thomas Nelson Publishers.

THE MEAT (The Main Idea)

This quote captures the human relationship with fear and the unknown. 

The darkness symbolizes the unknown, the mysterious, and all things scary. We are naturally apprehensive of what lies beyond our immediate view, clinging to the safety and familiarity of what we can see and understand. The darkness, as children Andrews writes about, is uncertainty. The place where our imaginations run wild with fears of monsters under the bed or shadows lurking in the corners of our rooms. 

However, as we transition into adulthood, our fears often shift from darkness to light. Instead of fearing the unknown, we become apprehensive of stepping into the light. The light is the potential judgment of others. In essence, we become afraid of exposure. What will the light expose? This fear of exposure highlights the deeper concern about vulnerability and authenticity. In the light, flaws and imperfections are illuminated. We fear others will see us as we truly are. 

THE CHEESE (Added Depth) 

Throughout my life, I often found myself navigating through the darkness of uncertainty and the misunderstandings of me. It seemed as though I was constantly trying to hide parts of myself in the shadows, adapting to different situations and settings. Confused by the disparity between who I thought I was and who I believed I ought to be, self-doubt weighed heavily on me. 

Like so many, I turned to popular personality assessments in the hopes of shedding some light on my true self. However, the insights from these results often left me feeling more confused and misunderstood. Worse, I began to change my authentic self to fit the labels the assessments gave me. Labels such as "dominant," "cautious," "ambitious," or "confident." While these labels weren't entirely inaccurate, they just weren't all accurate. Moreover, they didn't exactly communicate womanly societal norms. Consequently, I felt the need to hide certain parts of me to feel more palatable. 

In 2018, I took the CliftonStrengths assessment (formerly known as Strengthsfinder), and it was then the light began to flicker in the darkness. For the first time, I felt a glimmer of understanding and clarity. Unlike with previous results, these results didn't feel canned or painted with a broad brush. They were personalized and much more authentic to the real me. I enlisted the help of a certified Gallup Strengths coach to help me unpack the results. As the coach talked and asked questions, the light of self-awareness became brighter, dispelling the shadows of uncertainty. I began to see myself in a new light, embracing my strengths with a sense of pride and acceptance. What was once described as "dominance" was revealed to be a combination of my unique strengths (restorative + significance/responsibility + restorative). Similarly, what was labeled as "ambitious" was really a reflection of my achiever + significance. 

These insights felt truly authentic. With this new clarity, I no longer fear the light of self-awareness, nor do I shy away from potential judgment or others. This is who I am. The light highlights all my angles and reveals the true essence of who I am. In doing so, I found a way for others to see and understand me more clearly. See, my clarity of who I am helps others to understand me more clearly. As I accepted myself, others accepted me as well. 

THE OLIVES (A Surprising Element) 

Let's explore another possibility or connection to our quote. 

Imposter syndrome is defined as a pervasive feeling of inadequacy and fear of being exposed as a fraud despite evidence of competence. Someone who suffers from imposter syndrome casts a shadow over personal and professional growth. It manifests as a reluctance to step into the light of self-discovery and potential exposure, fearing judgment and vulnerability. Individuals may downplay achievements, seeking external validation and trapping themselves in a cycle of self-doubt and stagnation. This reluctance often stems from self-imposed limitations known as the "Upper Limit Problem," hindering growth and success. 

Overcoming imposter syndrome and the Upper Limit problem requires self-awareness and acceptance. Taking a reliable assessment such as the CliftonStrengths will help you to define who you are and how you naturally think, act, and behave. When you have a thought that says "You'll never be able to do ______. They're all gonna find out you're a fraud," you can check the facts. Be honest with yourself. Does _______ play to your strengths? 

Next, get a coach to help you through learning your strengths. If you're really thinking about getting a coach, make sure that person is certified to walk you through the next phase of helping you understand your results. By embracing one's worth and capabilities, individuals can break free from limitations and step boldly into their true potential. Just as children fear the unknown in the darkness, confronting insecurities leads to self-discovery and resilience. Embracing this journey, as Andrews noted, allows individuals to become more resilient, confident, and capable of achieving their dreams. So, let's not fear the dark or the light. Let's recognize that exposure to your true self is a gift to you and those around you. 

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