Years ago, there was a print ad (Nike?) that I just loved. It read:
You are born. And oh, how you wail! Your first breath is a scream. Not timid or low, but selfish and shattering, with all the force of waiting nine months under water. Your whole life should be like that: An announcement.
I was reminded of that ad recently when I was watching my fully-possessed two year old run around like the spirited boy that he is. He is irrepressible, embodied joy, electric. His cousins call him Happy for a reason. He, indeed, lives his life as an announcement.
And though I am his mom and am inclined to think he’s special, what I know to be true is that every single child begins that way. All of us come into this world playing big, not small. We don’t suppress our cries or laughs or joys. We don’t think badly of ourselves.
As children, we felt comfortable in our skin. Our body was our instrument, an extension of our wholly unique mind and soul. We used it to take us where we were going, to express what we felt, to get things done. The world, for us, was hopeful and certainly not limited by the way we looked. But then, too often, somewhere on the way to adulthood, something shifted. Our sense of our own brilliance faded. Our understanding of our own beauty dimmed. Our faith in our radiance wavered.
On Friday, in class, someone said that she thought self-doubts are given to us- not really chosen by us. That someone says something to us, and it sticks like Bondo on our soul. If we aren’t prepared to be resilient to it, it adds up over time. Becomes a definition rather than just something someone else said. Sometimes, it is directly given to us by someone’s words or actions. But sometimes it comes to us by way of media. And sometimes, maybe even, we choose it for some reason.
Whatever it may have been that stole away that central understanding of our inner and outer brilliance, I refuse to believe that we can’t get it back. And, even more than that, I believe it is crucial that we, in fact, do get it back. The world’s needs are too great and each of us has some role we are meant to be playing in addressing them. For any one of us to play small means our world stays broken. For every minute we spend in the mirror, lamenting what’s wrong with us, the world’s wrongs keep spinning by. For every announcement we don’t make, the silence is shattering.
And so today, I just want to remind me, you, all of us, that we have announcements that are meant to be made- not because they are selfish but, because in fact, when we’re our best selves they’re not. They are what we need to give and what the world needs to receive. Today, let’s live our announcements- clear and uncompromised.
What’s your announcement?