“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” - Marianne Williamson
I’ve been taking yoga classes twice a week. At my most recent session, the yoga instructor read this very quote out loud to us and I finally came to truly understand what it all means. You see, because I’ve been feeling quite fearful – which has led me to feeling hesitant, which then led me to feeling sorry for myself for being so weak. After all my travels and proactive self-improvement, I still managed to get myself stuck in a rut: back home with my parents and actually trying (though failing horribly) to live a “normal life” and do a “normal job.” I’ve become quite confused because I feel equal parts courage and fear ... equal parts capable and incapable, or to sum it up in a phrase: “I know I can, but for some reason, I can’t.” But then again, If I can, then why can I not?
Because I feel that I am undeserving of such power. How coincidental, our deepest fear – my deepest fear was never that I was inadequate. My deepest fear is that I am powerful beyond measure. It is my light, not my darkness that most frightens me. I ask myself, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who am I not to be?”
Can I actually make a difference? Can I be my true self and not be embarrassed? Can I shine my light despite the darkness surrounding me?
“You will fall,” the yoga instructor says as we begin getting into our tree pose. “We all have this voice in our heads telling ourselves, don’t fall, don’t fall, don’t fall ... but one day you will, and that’s okay because you can get right back up and pick up right where you left off.”
I think back to my younger teenage days when I grew my hair long across my face, when I never hesitated to let people know how much I loved Jay Chou, when I completely poured my heart out on Xanga without a care of what my privacy settings were, and how heartbroken I’d be when the girl I confessed my love to broke the news that she already likes somebody else. You would think that growing older means becoming more courageous and unrelenting about showing off who you really are. But I look back to my teenage years and I find that I was quite powerful, unrelenting, and much less hesitant than I am today. It’s funny. I guess the harder I’ve tried to stand out, the more I’ve just ended up blending in by taking on the excess fear bearing down on those surrounding me. Their deepest fear also being that they are powerful beyond measure, and so they do nothing. But all eyes are on me as I make the first move, then all of the sudden they beg the question, “Who are you to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?” To which I’ll just have to respond by saying, “Actually, who are you not to be?”
As the class came to a close, we are instructed to bring our right leg up to the pigeon pose, to take a deep breath in, then a little deeper, and to exhale as the whole class erupts in a giant “ahhh..........” The yoga instructor tells us to be conscious of our thoughts, our actions, our feelings; that everything that happened earlier today is no longer happening, that we are here now, and to just be present and breathe. “Just breathe,” he says to all of us. “No one is coming to save you, so you can stop waiting.” Surprisingly, my eyes became misty. How truthful.
I think it is easy to play the victim. Not to say whatever harmed us in the past did not play a major role in our pain, but many times playing the victim can be just another easy way out. It allows for excuses. The tiny voices in our heads keep up the chatter because, in a way, it feels good. Playing the role of the victim becomes part of our identity. It feels good to complain about our unfortunate position because it draws attention, hugs, friends patiently sitting beside you as you repeat your pitiful story for the hundredth time and tell you, “Aww it’s going to be okay” – the whole nine yards. The whole time unknowingly justifying our deepest fears of being inadequate. Well, as the yoga instructor said unto us earlier today, “No one is coming to save you, so you can stop waiting.” He continued, “And if that sounds depressing, then screw it.” His way of giving us permission to crawl back into the fetal position crying for help. But as scary as it sounded, I found it incredibly liberating.
“No one is coming to save you, so you can stop waiting.”
So scary. Yet, so liberating. Because you truly are in control of your own destiny, and frankly, everybody, even your closest friends, are way too busy dealing with their own messy lives to handhold you every step of the way.
So do something about it.
Whenever I mention anything regarding my pursuit of art, Dad’s favorite response is, “There’s only one Zhang Yimou,” to which I now say, “There’s only one Jason Lam.”
And as the class came to a close, and I lay on my back with limbs stretched out, he sounds the crystal singing bowl. As the hum momentarily takes over the entire room and thus my entire consciousness, it wipes out all inhibitions and fear. For those brief moments, I am free and truly understand that playing small does not serve the world. And if I am ever to feel an ounce of fear, it is not because I am inadequate but because I am powerful beyond measure.
by Jason Lam