“Anyone who isn’t embarrassed of who they were last year probably isn’t learning enough.” — Alain D. Button
Swiss-born/British writer, philosopher, television presenter and entrepreneur, Alain D. Button was truly onto something we he said the above quote. If we are constantly developing and learning as human beings, when we look back at all we did not know in the past year, we will be struck by how ignorant we were. Conversely we should be proud of all we have learned in the past year, how we have developed and grown. As long are we are learning, we are growing. When we stop learning, or being open to learning new things about ourselves, others, the world world around us, then we become stagnant.
One of the thing I am most embarrassed about , is that I dimmed my light to encourage another to shine. This has taught me a valuable lesson.
As a human, I want to encourage others. I want to help others see their potential, raise self esteem and help build them up. And it’s not completely altruistic either, it makes me feel good as well. But what I started doing with my last ex boyfriend, was to dim my own light so that he felt better about himself. This, in retrospect did not help either one of us.
For example, we went hiking at a local spot called Amicolola Falls and had a bet – whoever could hike the longest would win. He was 51, 12 years younger than I. We hiked up and down the stairs 3 times, and while both of us were tired, I knew I could go several more times. I was a healthy 39 year-old and a runner, so I was good. But his ego was very fragile, he had a big ego and I thought he might have trouble dealing with a girl who could beat him so badly. He was a very sore loser.
So when he suggested we race downhill, and the first one to the finish line would win I agreed. He was 5’11”, had long longs and a long stride that I knew would better handle the very steep down hill slope while running, than my short 5’2″ frame. He started off fill speed, while I lightly jogged down, letting him win. I knew it was important to him, so I pretended to be slower.
The result was pretty disastrous. It was not a great evening that I had after loosing the bet, and he was not kind. The whole time bragging how he beat me. He needed a weaker woman in order to feel more like a man. I never told him I let him win, and I should have. actually, I should not have let him win in the first place.
He was a math major in school, and prided himself on his mathematical prowess. I do math in my head, very quickly. But I found myself pretending not to know the answers in order to let him feel like he was superior to me. I pretended to be a lot dumber than I actually was, so as not too offend him. When I did correct him, he would get offended. I should never have dumbed myself down.
Why? Because what I have learned since is that if you have to pretend to be weaker, or not as smart, or less that you are for someone to like you, you should not be around them. Regardless if you are a man or a woman, regardless if the other party is a man of a woman, the people who care about you should celebrate your strengths, not be threatened by them.
It is not my ex’s fault, it is mine in that instance. I should never have pretended to be less than I was to boost his self esteem. While I do believe it is our responsibility to be kind. compassionate and build each other up, you should not do so at your own expense. Shine as bright as you can. Those who love you, will be proud of you, they will love you even more for how smart and capable you are. Don’t worry about those who don’t.
What happened to the ex? One of the many reasons he is an ex is because he could not handle a strong woman. He needed someone he could dominate, and indeed there are plenty of women out there who want or need to be dominated. I, however am not one of them. So he went off to find a more suitable partner, as did I.
But when I think back to that relationship, I am embarrassed about how dumb and weak I was willing to pretend to be. No wonder we did not work – I was not honest with him about who I was, and that wasted time for both of us. I was so busy trying to be his “ideal partner” that I forgot part of who I was – a smart capable strong women. And when I could not fit that mold any more, the real me came out, the relationship came to an abrupt halt, because he did not know who he was in the relationship with. He had the impression that I was a person he could walk all over.
So moving forward, I know that I am a very strong woman, and I need a very strong and secure man who can deal with me.
Lean from my mistakes, and never dim your light so another can outshine you. The result is neither one of you truly shine to your potential.