Are You Settling for a Supporting Role in Your Own Life?
Ron Weasley. Gretchen Weiners. Samwise Gamgee. We love them for so many reasons, namely because it’s hard not to. They’re loyal, supportive, lovably awkward, and frankly, most of us can identify with the fact that some of their best qualities go somewhat unnoticed or unappreciated. They’re entirely relatable - but it might be time to dig a little deeper into the why.
Confidence Breeds Success, Success Breeds Confidence
I’ve spent the last few years really starting to find my footing as a woman and taking some necessary steps to navigate my life in a direction that aligns with the way I want to feel. That’s not to say I’ve “arrived” or gotten it all right (have any of us, really?) but it feels good to be on a path that aligns with my core.
The last few months in particular have brought some exciting changes for me, personally - my guy and I bought our first home, I moved out of the Land of the Cubicles and into my first ever office at work, I’ve found new clarity and focus in my brand - and it’s hard not to notice the cumulative effect they have. With each small ‘win’, I can feel myself stand a little taller, feel a little more sure-footed, and navigate my days from a place of a little more confidence.
But I realized something important recently: these personal wins don’t just produce confidence, they call for it too. It’s a cycle.
Start with a kernel of belief and self trust. Step justttt outside your comfort zone to pursue a thing that fill you up. Reap the benefits from that courage, in one way or another. Experience a small surge in confidence. Round and round we go.
This season's personal milestones stand out in recent memory because they're both highlighted by contrast and sharpened by hindsight. Lately I’ve felt sure-footed and empowered to take action and pursue the things I’ve deemed meaningful, and it's helped me see with clarity that feeling rooted in confidence enables it all. When my self trust was shakiest, my roots were brittle. I was full of doubt, easy to uproot, and reluctant to put up much of a fight - mostly because I had more trust in the people around me than I did in myself and believed more in their strength than my own. It became more comfortable to slip into the role of “faithful sidekick” than to write my own storyline as a heroine.
Being a Driver vs. a Passenger
Having filled both the role of driver and passenger in my own life, I can tell you that not only do they feel wildly different, but they each steered my life in an entirely different direction.
Feeling like a passenger meant feeling less and less in control of the direction my life was headed. I found that I was waiting for my life to happen to me, feeling almost like a victim and wildly anxious about what curveballs might come hurtling at me next. It was awful, and stressful, and anxiety-provoking in a big way. But by starting to focus more energy on rediscovering some of my most basic wants, needs, and strengths, there was a huge shift; brainstorming and gameplans replaced self pity in the face of obstacles, problems felt solvable, and I started to feel rooted in my own inner strength.
The areas in my life where I’ve been willing - even eager - to take a backseat were the areas where I’ve felt the least experienced, confident, or sure of myself. When I was the ‘young one’ in my last relationship with less life under my belt and fewer polarizing opinions than my partner, I silently gave him permission to steer. I told myself it was “just easier” that way.
The thing I didn’t understand was that being a driving force in your own life doesn’t carry specific requirements. We all have a source of inner power to tap into and the strength to be our own driver - even if your strength is gentle or your experience is limited. In a healthy relationship, there is room for two confident, assertive people at the helm.
Regardless of the words you’d use to describe yourself - gentle or firm, decisive or indecisive, bold or shy, seasoned or lacking experience - you are worthy of embracing the role of protagonist in your own life, worthy of your own story arc that doesn’t relegate you to a supporting role in someone else’s story, and worthy of personal wins. The driver’s seat is there waiting for you, when you’re ready to occupy it. You get to decide how you want your life to feel, without giving up that power to someone else. But it starts with recognizing and trusting your own strength.
A little challenge for you:
Call it homework, call it a challenge, or call it an invitation: find a little time this week to grab a notebook, your journal, even a scrap of paper, and sit with your thoughts for a few minutes. Look at the different areas of your life, and ask yourself:
Do I feel more like a driver, or a passenger?
Don’t be afraid to dig a little into the why. What are you doing in those areas where you feel like you’re in the driver’s seat, to make yourself feel powerful? In the areas where you feel more like a passenger, why do you think that is? What’s keeping you there?
You were made for more than propping someone else up, or playing second fiddle to someone else’s leading role. You have a source of strength in you that only you can know how to tap into. Learning to embrace that strength not only brings out the best in us, it makes us better to the people we care about. Self-trust and the decision to nurture our inner strengths are two of the best commitments we can make to ourselves; they allows us to be better friends, children, parents, and partners.
Dare to root your decisions and actions in the belief that you are strong and worthy of being heard, and everyone wins.