I was walking into the living room when my husband said, “Holy shit, Ruth Bader Ginsberg is dead.”
The news hit me so hard I fell into a nearby wall.
The notorious RBG was the
- champion of equality who flipped the system on its head,
- the tiny and mighty example that glass ceilings are meant to be shattered,
- a Supreme Court titan who answered her calling until the very end of her life.
She inspired me to tame my imposter syndrome and live up to my ideals.
Part of me believed Justice Ginsberg would live forever.
Sadly, she didn’t.
And now our country will reckon with the questions arising from her absence.
On Sunday as I reflected on Justice Ginsburg’s role in my life, I watched a video interview with six high school students I met through a local spiritual center. The teens sat on an outdoor labyrinth and talked honestly about their lives during COVID-19.
Amidst the fidgeting and nervous laughter were honest reflections on their fears of not being taken seriously, the struggle to set boundaries when not everyone holds the same beliefs, and the difficulty of spending so much time alone.
One young woman said, “Now that all my activities have come to a screeching halt, I don’t know who I am. Every dark feeling I’ve ever had screams in my ears.” She went on to talk about how silence amplifies our unworthiness.
Determined not to live small lives, these teens used creativity and meditation to quiet their inner chatter.
They were so wise, and yet they also clearly expressed how badly they needed all of us.
While they said time and attention are great, what they really need is for us to show them what’s possible by living up to our potential.
Right now, someone younger or newer to your field is struggling with their inner imposter. You have the power to help them see beyond their perceived limitations.
This doesn’t require you to become the next RBG.
Sometimes, what you do at your lowest point is what counts.
In February of 2014, I quit my job as a mental health counselor for two equally important reasons. After a two-year struggle with Lyme disease, I was too sick to work. While making this decision, I realized that fifteen years of ignoring my writing dreams hadn’t given me the life I wanted. It was time to answer the call.
For the next few weeks, I walked a trail near my townhouse and wondered what the hell I was doing.
At the end of one of those walks, I met a new neighbor. After a few pleasantries, he asked the question I dreaded most. “What do you do?”
“I’m a writer,” I replied, forcing a smile.
“Oh, how fascinating,” he said. “What books have you published?”
“Well none,” I said. “But I’m currently writing one.”
“Good luck with that.” He smiled skeptically in my direction then walked away.
I shuffled home as my inner imposter laughed at me. “Hey loser, did you see that smile?”
I nodded, wiped away a tear, and thought about quitting.
The next day, I wrote the first chapter of a book.
Every day after that I wrote again.
Two years later, my former clinical supervisor asked me to tea. During our visit, she told me that watching me following my dreams had inspired her to take a one-year leave from her job. She planned to attend an intensive meditation retreat she called her personal Eat, Pray, Love adventure.
A little while after that, a friend told me she was writing a book.
Someone else started a business after watching mine grow.
Seeds were planted that I could never have imagined in 2014.
This isn’t some magic, good-luck story. This is what happens when you show others that our dreams are important and possible.
You see, life isn’t all about you.
In pursuing your dreams, you give others permission to do the same.
During the month of October, consider this experiment.
Every time you encounter an opportunity to pursue your dreams, instead of asking “Why on earth should it be me,” ask “Why shouldn’t it be me?” Then act accordingly.
When collecting data, don’t just pay attention to how you feel. Notice what others do because you’ve answered this call.
At the end of the month, send me your findings.
Or better yet, Tweet me your response with the hashtag #experimentsingreatness.