…believe them the first time.” ~Maya Angelou
First time. That’s the part that got me. It didn’t feel spacious or gracious. It was a zero-tolerance policy I wasn’t yet familiar with. Or, more truthfully, I didn’t yet feel deserving enough to enforce. But that’s a-changing…
I was seated in the Arie Crown Theater of the McCormick Place (America’s largest convention center, BTW. Go Chicago!). This special event happened sometime in the ’90s (memory blur… anybody out there remember the exact date?), and it was created so Oprah could share her steps to success with a large, live crowd. Yes, of course, we all got great goodie bags, but I digress.
At some point in her presentation, Oprah shared the above quote from her friend and mentor Maya Angelou: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” It stung me when she said it. The truth of it was so sharp, it actually cut me a little.
Which is a far better cut to endure, I’m learning, than if you don’t heed that strong advice.
If you fail to believe a person when they show you who they are the first time, you sign up for a lengthy ride where you hope to be surprised. But aren’t.
So you knew all along that whatever that thing you saw — that red-flag… that Twilight-Zone episode that you lived… that spontaneous breakdown in the bathroom — had always been there. But you chose to be blinded by optimism.
Or, the other way it can work, is that your Future/Higher self sees the Real Deal, but your At-That-Moment self hadn’t grown there yet. (Translation: What you think is wonderlicious in 2009 might start to smell sour and rancid in 2011.)
So if you took a job or, heck, even a marriage that you had some reservations about, but you went forward with anyway, only to later find that your first hunch was correct, if I may add a little honey to Maya’s strong tea: Do not fret. Nothing was wasted. Remember, you can’t break your life. When you went forward with that choice, it matched who you were at that time. And the teeny-tiny-oh-so-polite pause you felt was your Essence (the part of you that is eternal) giving a gentle heads-up that you could eventually evolve or grow beyond that circumstance.
Some of us hasten toward that evolutionary growth. Some of us stunt it entirely.
However we choose to proceed is just fine. What matters is that we make the choice consciously, because that will relieve the frustration and resentment that comes with playing small, and the fear and vulnerability that comes with playing big.
Two cents on a Sunday afternoon.