I had no idea of the impending emotional impact coming after pushing PLAY on my car's CD player.
It was a normal drive home from a nice weekend trip. My ex-husband (we were married at the time) had his head resting against the seat enjoying a nap as I navigated the roads. We had just purchased an album and I wanted to give it a listen.
I knew in advance that all the songs were entirely instrumental, so no lyrics. During the middle of the second track, something happened that I can only describe like this.
The top of my head opened up and a vision for a live stage performance was dropped in. I sat up straighter and kept driving and listening. By the end of the entire album, I was gripping the steering wheel, shaking my head, and smiling in amazement.
The full story had unfolded itself and I saw the complete dramatic presentation in my mind—told without words, only to the ebbs and flow of the music—every song, in order. I re-listened to the album again to make sure I wasn't crazy. I wasn't.
Over fifty gracious individuals volunteered to help me bring this hour long production to life and after five months of writing, preparation, and rehearsals, we presented in the spring of 2001. It remains one of my most enjoyable creative projects.
I share this experience with you not only because of the incredible way the idea came about, but because of an audience member that came up afterwards and said, "You did all this? You're so little."
With the high of the evening still buzzing through my veins, I laughed and remained polite. All these years later, I can't remember who made the comment or even if it was a man or woman. However, I've often reflected on the statement with one overarching question:
How did my size have anything to do with it?
True, I never did quite make it to 5 foot 2 inches, although I claim that on my drivers license. My physical presence doesn't scream out, "pay attention to me." I must intentionally work to project my voice when not using a microphone.
But, why does being little play a part in what I wish to accomplish?
Negative assumptions made by others can possess a profound influence on us. There are times those incorrect beliefs can spur us to prove a person wrong. However, often we accept them blindly. The assumption a person made about what I could do solely because of my stature is an example of what we all face at times.
You did all this? You're so little.
You're so old.
You're so young.
You're so quiet.
You're so skinny…overweight…uneducated…inexperienced...
I get not everyone has the ability or more poignantly, the desire, to do everything perfectly. And many accomplishments require a wealth of risk-taking, action, and learning. But believing inaccurate assumptions people make about us, can be detrimental to pursuing what we truly want and hope to achieve.
Should we be angry with those who make these careless assertions about us?
I look at it this way. We all make assumptions. Beyond logical due diligence, can you imagine how overloaded our lives and brains would be if we sought the facts on every last thing? We need to assume certain things like the expiration date on the milk carton is correct; my tax preparer is a trustworthy person; our car mechanic knows what he or she is doing.
The frustration comes when people make wrong assumptions about us. They will. They always will because thinking something different simply doesn't exist in their realm of possibility. Most of the time there isn't much we can do about their viewpoints unless we're willing to engage them in an honest dialogue in which they're open to reframing their conclusions.
In turn, we don't know how or why someone's thoughts were formed either. We must be careful not to place upon them our own undue restrictions because we don't understand or take the time to learn more about them.
Perhaps now, that person who witnessed my leadership of the stage-performance, may not be as shocked that someone "little" can do something big.
The reminder is not to allow the assumptions of others to limit you in the pursuit of doing what you want to do. Just go do it.