In the shadows has been a safe place to be for a long, long time. I was in second grade. My reading group, the Cardinals (best group), stood up to read. I was immersed in the story and by now was several pages ahead of the group, so, of course, I was not on the right page. For this transgression of being a good reader and going too fast, I was banished to the Starlings (slowest group).
Lesson: it’s not good to be too smart or too fast or too different. It’s safer in the shadows where no one notices you. You won’t get punished there.
But living in the shadows has it’s price. There are secrets in the shadows, and a single ray of sunlight can expose them. You can spend your whole life covering things over and pushing things back and hoping that no one will discover who you really are. Because that would be scary. And nasty. And no one would love you any more. So you stretch your neck out every so often, and then pull it back quickly. You create opportunities and sabotage them. You don’t believe the good things people tell you because, after all, they don’t really know you. What if they knew? So, no one else punishes you. Instead, you punish yourself.
A few moths ago, I was invited to met a friend in Bucks County, where she was visiting her brother and sister-in-law. I hadn’t seen my friend in over a year and I missed her. I love her family, and knew I’d enjoy their company. I wasn’t going to go. I was feeling like a fraud and a failure. My business was comatose. No clients. Contracts falling through right and left. I was broke. My friend’s sister-in-law got on the phone and told me to go pack and get on the train. If I could manage the fare, they’d take care of everything else. And they did. And I wasn’t allowed to feel embarrassed. And I had a wonderful time. No one cared.
Lesson: You miss a lot in the shadows. It may be safe, but you won’t get rewarded there, and you’ll miss a lot of fun!