I saw this picture on a friend's Facebook today...
... it hit home for several reasons.
The first being that this was something I failed badly at, when I was young; I regularly dimmed my light when I was a teen. It started after I moved countries, at age 10, and wanted to just "fit in" at my new schools in a strange new culture.
Looking back, I can see that a lot of the "me" from those high school years (I was 12 when I entered high school) was barely visible and often hardly ME at all. And even after I finished school, the ME I truly was had become so buried under the "me" I wore to be accepted that I really only managed to be my true self in small bursts, usually when I was too tired or too emotional to care if anyone was offended or scared by my brightness.
In my late 30s, I had just begun peeling back the dimness and was beginning to shine, when I married and moved countries again. Immigrating triggered all those old feelings of insecurity, of not "fitting", and sadly, once again, I began to dim myself down in order to fit in.
It's taken me a long time to understand that there's a lot more to dimming my light than I realised. And Facebook made me notice that. You see, on Facebook I have gathered everyone I want to keep contact with in a fast-easy way. That includes a very varied range of people, from childhood friends and family to new friends and people I know through various work/interests.
This is what happened - I began to lose friends. A few at first, but these last 18 months it's been more. I began to think, "What is wrong with me?" Today I realised... there's nothing wrong with ME, but there was a lot wrong with the dim "me" I was still, often unconsciously, using to fit in. I lost Facebook friends because many of those very different people only knew the dimmed "me" I had used when we were together. But once they were all on my Facebook wall, all in the same "room", there was no way I could juggle all the dimmed "me" variants and the real ME started to emerge.
I'd say, at this stage, I'm the brightest ME on Facebook that I've ever been. And that ME is ever evolving as I open up to who I truly am. And that has caused problems. People have un-friended ME, because I've been "too" -. "too loud", "too quiet", "too Left", "too Middle of the Road", "too forceful", "too soft"... I've had all of those as accusations. And they have hurt at times. The old "me" wanted to scrabble madly to fit in, but on social media, under so much scrutiny, it was impossible to please everyone and so... I began choosing what pleased me.
I embraced my "too much" and accepted my "too bright-ness". I'm still working on this and yes, sometimes I'm still losing friends. I lost a dear friend recently. This person left me with "too blunt" and "too forceful". Am I? I have others who grumble that I'm "too accepting", "too polite" and "too forgiving". Am I both? Or am I just... ME. Messy, complicated, still evolving. A star in the process of learning how to be a sun. Sometimes burning things, but always unintentionally. Trying to be warming, but aware that some can only cope with so much brightness.
So, whoever you are, whatever type of star you might be, or be in the process of becoming... just SHINE. Those that need your light will find you and yes, those that aren't able to cope will move on. Love them and let them go. They are their own stars, they will find their own place in the sky to shine.
The universe is big enough for everyone.