How Labels Keep Us Playing Small
Any good girls here besides me?
You know? The rule followers. The perfectionists. I’m the “sit in the front of the room and raise my hand type.” My mom wanted me to go to college so I did. Grad school? Ok. Get a good job, find a husband, have some babies? That’s me!
And while I wouldn’t change this path specifically, I have found that playing the role of the good girl has often caused me to doubt and question the truth that’s in my heart. Making the leap from a therapist to an entrepreneur created all sorts of doubt. It kept me playing small in my business because somewhere inside I was always worried about disappointing someone. Good girls follow the rules and leaving the career I had built to try something new was clearly not part of the rules.
I became an entrepreneur right before I had babies and have navigated my way through being a present mom and building a business with them by my side. I often feel stuck between the two labels and subsequent societal momguilt of stay at home mom (underachiever) and working mom (I don't love my kids enough). You see, labels can often give us this unwritten set of rules to follow. A way for us good girls and perfectionists to make sure we are doing it all right. I find myself seeking out one of these labels. Something to self-identify with. A group that will get me. A box to put myself in so that I can define my parameters and then do that. You know, so that I can be the good girl and fulfill my role. Being the in-between mom has me feeling all sorts of failure. It is as if I’m worried that the stay at home moms that I work out with are rolling their eyes because I am not volunteering more at school and then my working friends wonder why I am not more available. These are the deep judgments that I hold onto. Yet the reality is that no one is really that worried about me at all. I am holding onto these judgments. I am letting these fears dance in my head. I am the one comparing myself to some unrealistic expectation of what my life is supposed to look like. Where and how did I even come up with this? Some mom blog? Social media? Societal expectations of what my life is supposed to look like as a mom? Someone giving me their list of how to be great that I have allowed to be my expert and therefore adopt this list as my rule book?
This fear and doubt of not being good and perfect causes us to continue to look outside of ourselves for the answers.
We consult the internet. We see all of the fun activities our stay at home mom friends are doing with their kids and read working mom blogs on getting it all done. We find out what it means to have a job, a side hustle, and be a full time entrepreneur. We constantly seek these roles. These labels and unwritten rules that will tell us how to do life. And somewhere in there is where we try to fit in. Always trying to fill these multiple roles of who it is that we think we are supposed to be and always failing miserably.
This is the perfection trap. It’s the space where we doubt ourselves and our own greatness. But the truth as that we are multidimensional. We all take a different recipe. So, trying to fit into someone else’s plan of what works for them is only going to leave us feeling empty and wrong. We feel like failures. We feel excluded. We feel broken and anxious. All because we don’t quite have the same recipe as the rule book.
The answer we are looking for isn’t in the role or the label. It’s not in how social media memes us. It’s inside. Our internal navigation and heart is what will guide us to our real role which is ultimately to find our life’s purpose. No one has the answers to your life but you. No one has the answers at all except to their life and what’s worked for them. And sometimes what works for them may inspire what works for you. Use it as inspiration and not your rule book.
Here are the things that have worked for me. That have helped me find my voice, listen to my heart, and throw all of the labels out the window.
I had to get crystal clear on what my goals and priorities were. This takes turning down social media and google for a minute and turning up your voice of your heart. Take 10 minutes. Get quiet. Breathe. And ask yourself what you want for your life. What does the very best version of yourself look like?
Then say a whole lot of yes’s and a whole lot of no’s. Everything that will contribute to your priority list, go all in. All the yes’s. Everything else is a no.
Own it. Vibrate the energy of who you are. Embrace your secret sauce.
When you feel lost, look for inspiration, not answers. This is normal. It’s so normal to get off track with anything in life. Don’t let that keep you down. Don’t let someone else’s life dictate how you think you should live yours.
Support other women. The way we find validation in ourselves is in listening to each other’s stories. Every other woman is going through what you’re going through.
We are all this beautiful potpourri that takes different measurements to make up who we are. We are some parts mom and friend and achiever but those parts vary. Own that. Know that you are not missing anything because you are different. You are exactly who you are supposed to be.
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Brook Belden lives in Raleigh, NC with her husband and 2 children. She has been an advocate and coach for helping women live their best life for over 13 years and is passionate about helping women wake up to the life they are longing to live. She’s a personal growth junkie, chai lover, yogi, and writer.