You’re bright. You’re insightful and creative. You have natural leadership abilities. You could do anything, earn a spot at the top, and have plenty to show for it.
AND, just because you can, doesn’t mean you MUST. It’s perfectly acceptable to feel proud of a small happy life. YOU get to decide what that looks like – because bigger isn’t necessarily better.
When you’re a person who oozes of potential, it’s easy to feel pressured to “live large”, climb the corporate ladder, aim for the +6-figure income, “make something of yourself”, build your subscriber list into the thousands, and “be all that you can be”.
There’s a sense that you should step up (do, be, and achieve more) because that’s where you’ll find real success – the success that you “deserve” or are “meant for”.
I feel that pressure sometimes. And I acknowledge that I catch myself placing that pressure on my hubby and daughter too. There’s a fine line between seeing potential/having healthy expectations and creating soul-crushing stress. Unfortunately, sometimes you have to cross the line before you see it.
That’s what I thought about when I read the Quiet Revolution post, On What to Be, which describes an introverted woman’s coming to terms with the pressure of being “gifted” in relation to ambition.
“But there will always be a small piece of me that finds fault with my aversion to ambition—a little voice that tells me I am wasting what I have been given, that what I am is not enough.” ~Kelly Quirino
“What I AM is not enough” is a voice that many introverts hear. Add to that, “What I DO is not enough” and “What I WANT/ASPIRE TO is not enough”, and it’s no wonder overwhelm and doubt can take its toll when you don’t see yourself as a particularly ambitious person (in the common use of the word).
Small doesn’t mean unimportant. It’s not necessary to “go big or go home”.
You can have a small, manageable life and still make a difference.
What if we could learn to feel proud of ourselves at the end of the day in terms of our inherent worthiness rather than based on whether our ambitions and accomplishments measured up?
And what if that pride didn’t have anything to do with outer comparisons, measurements, titles, or material items that could be taken from us, and everything to do with how we showed up in the world that particular day?
Instead of measuring your worth on grades, job titles, being deemed “likeable”, doing what you think you “should”, or earning an “acceptable” income, you could reflect on questions more indicative of personal character and self-leadership that might include:
- Did I treat myself and others with respect and kindness?
- Did I take risks?
- Did I try?
- Did I grow/learn?
- Did I keep a promise?
- Was I resilient?
- Did I allow the real me to show up?
- Was I useful?
- Did I share something of myself that had a positive impact on one person?
- Did I forgive?
- Did I apologize?
- Did I love?
- Was I grateful?
- Did I do my best in the context of everything that was going on today?
Be Brave, Be Seen, Be True – this is not about perfection or becoming larger than life and having ambitions that impress. It’s about the intention, commitment, and choice to live in a way that is more genuinely YOU.
It’s a call to action and lifelong aspiration that requires more ambition than any other task – because it’s anything but easy to carve out your own best life as defined by you.
For some people, that may be about living large.
But there are many of us who get caught up in trying to accomplish more because we think that’s what we should want – when, if we’re being honest with ourselves, what we really want is a small, happy life that reflects our values and that we can feel proud of.
“In that moment I was able to relieve myself of the need to do something important, from which I would reap praise and be rewarded with fulfillment.” ~Elizabeth Young
I’m one of those people. To me, bigger and better and more magnificent isn’t the goal. I’m not inspired to gain thousands of clients or push myself to make a 6-figure income.
I’m not trying to change the world. Or follow a path that my university education or personality type might suggest.
I want a small, simple life that fuels me, has meaning & purpose, and allows me to feel satisfied and at peace.
At the end of the day, I want to feel proud of myself – of how I showed up – and be able to walk tall in that knowing. It’s wrapped up in – yet separate from – my desire to feel happy or successful.
What do you REALLY aspire to?
What would it look like if you were living big enough that you felt proud (like you are growing and living in accordance with your values with meaning and purpose) but not so big that you felt overwhelmed and drowning in stress all the time trying to measure up and step up?
Would that be your own version of a small, happy life?
What makes you feel proud as you reflect on your day?
These are core building blocks for your Wise Introvert life.
Be Brave, Be Seen, Be True – and choose a small happy life if that’s what’s most true to you now. You don’t have anything to prove.