I'm done dimming my light
“There is nothing enlightening about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
“We are meant to shine We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.”
Her words have been echoing in my head for the past few weeks as I try to not celebrate my successes. I don’t share WhatsApp or Facebook status updates showing all the strides I’ve made, the achievements and the many great things to celebrate, because I am scared of coming across as seeking to be celebrated more than others. I am scared of driving my family and friends away because I’m unapologetically letting my light shine ever so bright.
Growing up in an impoverished village like Masobe, Pankop,doesn’t make things easier. I carry the guilt of seeing many of my fellow villagers struggling and seeing their potential and great talents go to waste.
I see them committing themselves to alcohol and drugs, faithfully.
When the very same people I went to school with see me today, they call me Uncle, Bra-Yaka (my brother) and other endearing names just to ask for R20 or R50 to buy a drink or cigarettes.
I honestly want to live an honest life with myself. I don’t want to play small any more. The truth is, indeed it does not serve the world. I really don’t want people I grew up with to feel insecure and feel like underachievers around me. I want to shine.
Williamson said something so comforting, so encouraging on how to deal with this guilt - “it is not just in some of us; it’s in everyone As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others”.
So, from now on, I am going to be unapologetic about how I shine my light. If people cannot handle me at a hundredfold, and only want to associate me with a watered-down version of myself, they are not for me.
It is so hard because even the relationships with friends and family (mostly cousins), still depend on my communication and reaching out.
Now 27 years on, this is still a huge problem in my life. These people and I can go for months, some even years, without talking unless I call, send a text or go visit.
I am still afraid to be labelled “Mr Celebrity”; “He thinks he is better than us because he appears on TV and radio”; “He doesn’t visit or call because things are looking up in his life”.
I’m not suggesting one should be nasty towards friends or family, because things are going well.
What I am saying is, as we get older, priorities change. And if people are not willing to make an effort to keep relationships going, I’m done dimming my light so they feel better.
I personally have not changed. And I don’t have the leisure time I used to to call, visit, play small and ensure everybody is happy. If it means all the relationships are going to collapse if I do not make the effort, shrink my success and not dim my light, then I am afraid they will have to end.
As author of one of my favourite books, Holding My Breath, Ace Moloi puts it (paraphrased); “I am going to stop building relations based on a minimised version of myself for the fear of too-muchness.”
If my light is too much, if a maximised version of me in something you cannot handle, remember, “we were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.” It is in all of us.
Kabelo Chabalala is founder of the Young Men Movement (YMM), the 2018 Obama Foundation Africa Leader, and a 2018 Finland Correspondent Programme (FCP) participant