“You deserve to take up space.”
“Take up space and use your voice”
“Stop shrinking to fit into places you have outgrown.”
If you do a quick search of “taking up space,” there are 900 million-bazillion quotes about it, varying on themes from actually taking up physical space to spiritual space and everything in between. And they are awesome. And I have pinned them, and shared them, and man, have I said a lot of them.
But living them, whew… that’s another story.
I can’t say that I do a great job of living into this idea that I am worthy to take up space. Maybe it’s the social norms that women are taught – sometimes inadvertently – as we grow up. The theme seemed to be impressed upon us from a young age that while we could serve in many ways, serving our opinion – or authentic self – really wasn’t what they had in mind. Women who were “larger than life” (however you want to interpret that) always were discussed with concern or caveats. And while this lesson wasn’t taught to me at home, I still managed to absorb it enough that even now it lingers.
For example, I got off a work call the other day and felt the need to check-in and apologize for speaking for the team, even though I am the lead on the project and the one with the subject expertise. And not even a week ago I heard myself apologize to friends about the fact that I had gained some weight during quarantine and my shirt “didn’t fit like it use to.” (Something you should never, ever, apologize for, but ESPECIALLY during a pandemic.)
I know I am not alone in this. And I know it’s not just women who feel these things. The truth is, that no matter what we, ourselves, or society tries to convince us of, we need to take up space.
See, there is a perfect you-shaped hole in the world, and unless you work each day to live a life that is fully and authentically you, you won’t ever completely fill up that space. And this isn’t a tiny you-shaped-hole. This is a ship-sinking, massive, gaping hole. And you can’t partially fill it. Or only fill it when you are with friends. Or fill it ¾ of the way at work. If you don’t completely fill it, there will be things missing that the world desperately needs, and only you can provide.
It sounds big. Maybe that’s why we try to simplify it down quotes we can pin and share easily on Instagram. To really acknowledge that we have big space to take up in the world means we have to spend some time really in ourselves: both our physical body and our spiritual one.
Your physical body is beautiful- even on the days you aren’t feeling it. It is deserving of love and joy and goodness. Your value has nothing to do with its shape, and you are no better or more valuable when it is “smaller” or “fitter” or “curvier” or “_______” – fill in with any other adjective. Your physical body – right now, in this exact moment, exactly as it exists – is powerful and worthy and amazing.
And your spiritual self – talk about badass! Your spiritual self is filled with knowledge and passion and insight that only you can share with the world. And if you don’t honor that part of you by living fully and speaking and sharing it, the world is missing out.
We need you – in your body, being your full self – to show up and bring all the goodness you have into this world. Take up space. Exist loudly. And know, that without a doubt, you are valuable, and the world needs you.