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Why Dimming Your Light Helps No One

Updated: Jun 26

Dimming your light doesn’t help anyone.

Sometimes I wonder how you can be someone who constantly receives compliments and high praises yet still struggle with being seen. I’m not saying this as a judgment; I’m asking myself the same question.

This thought came to me as I considered how uncomfortable I am with posing for pictures. Every photoshoot I’ve had has taken a few shots (maybe more than a few) before I felt comfortable and got creative with the poses. This is not because I don’t know what angles look good or how to position myself to highlight what I’m wearing.

The problem arises when I ask myself, “Who do you think you are?” Literally, as I look at the photographer and see the camera go up to their eye, something in my brain flips. Suddenly, I retreat into myself, get lost in my thoughts, and show almost none of my personality.

Thankfully, I’ve had some amazing photographers who were willing to coach and encourage me in the moment. As a result, we were able to get some amazing shots.

But there’s always been another part of me that wants to have that for myself. I wanted to become the dream model for any photographer because I was willing to not hold back. Capturing content in public, getting more video, and showing the behind-the-scenes of content creation has really helped me find more comfort in being seen. Although the challenge always arises again when there is someone else behind the camera or when I know it’s going to be seen by others.

The Struggle of Being Seen

Why do I struggle with being seen?

As I sat with this question, I recognized that there was a part of me that felt like it was easier to fit in when you are not exceptional. When you don’t give things your all or show your full potential, that’s where people feel more comfortable around you. Then you don’t have to hear statements like:

- “I wish I could do that too.”

- “You’re so good at that; it could never be me.”

- “Look at you making the rest of us look bad.”

None of these things are said in a negative way (at least not towards me), but they somehow had a negative impact. Now, I’m wondering if I’m doing too much. Should I dial it back so I don’t make people feel bad about themselves? Especially if that means people wouldn’t want to be around me or felt like I was better than them in any way.

Sounds thoughtful, right?

Well, wait until I tell you what was really behind that thought process…

Selfishness and Fear

You see, the real problem was that those statements brought up certain fears in me that had nothing to do with anyone else but me. One of the biggest fears was that I would not live up to the expectations of the people who looked up to or admired me. Who wants to be the person who people had high hopes for and turned out to be a failure? All my life, people have told me that I was destined for great things and that I was going to be someone special. Even my name, Jada West, often leads people to ask if I am famous. The idea of not living up to that perception, making some huge mistake and falling from grace, or even minor L’s (that in the grand scheme of things aren’t a big deal) are all fears of mine.

Now you may be wondering how any of this plays into being “shy” during photoshoots.

Well, because I tend to want to manage people’s expectations of me, I instinctively default to doing just enough so as not to look like I’m showing off or doing the most. Even though I may have on an amazing outfit, the self-esteem ends up not going with the look.

Remind me one day to talk about how I would hide my low self-esteem behind my style.

In the back of my mind, I’m repeating all the things I mentioned earlier that make me feel like I need to keep the best parts of myself under wraps.

Embracing Your Light

Because I made it a habit to dim my light, I kept the parts of myself that people needed to see hidden. Think about where we would be if people like Beyoncé didn’t overcome the fear of being seen, with her introverted nature. There would be countless artists and creators who may not ever have had the chance of having their brand put on display for the world. Between the dancers, photographers, other musicians, marketing directors, stylists, and so many more people attached to her brand who were able to benefit from the platform she established. That’s because being seen, being visible, is often a selfless act. Even though our society can often vilify those who are willing to promote themselves.

And even in a practical sense, let’s use working with a photographer as an example.

Oftentimes, the work you do with a photographer is mutually beneficial. Although they are performing a service for you as a client, the work they do with you also serves as marketing for their business. My taking amazing, confident pictures makes both of us look good and helps both of our brands. Additionally, photographers are artists too. There have been countless occasions where a photographer was influenced by their muse (the client) to pursue projects that elevated their brands or even took their careers to new levels.

The point I’m making here is that playing it small benefits no one.

With that in mind, there are people who I began to recognize have benefited from my light. However, in my selfishness, I would often try to hide and honestly get real stingy with my gifts. And I understand why I did it. Having the fears I did made it difficult to think about anyone but myself. Even with my intentions not being malicious. Between the concerns I had of feeling like a fraud, areas in my life where I needed to forgive myself, and my heart’s desire to simply protect me—there was a lot happening at one time. I desperately needed to show myself grace, patience, and kindness coupled with action to prove that I could overcome it.

Because I’ve been doing the work in Getting Unshy, I have been able to see people:

- Start businesses they never imagined they could get off the ground

- Create content using their voice and showing their face

- Put on clothes that they felt unworthy of wearing and learn to love their bodies

- Develop products that they love and are loved by the people they serve

- Overcome feelings of inadequacy and build their self-esteem

I’m not sharing this just to flex (because it is a slight flex), but it also goes to show that my light serves a purpose as long as it shines brightly for the world to see. Plus, with these reminders, I can have them as a reference when I catch myself trying to hide again. Especially as I face new challenges and reach new levels in life and business. It works because it reminds me to think about someone other than myself and to imagine life beyond my fears.

Who Would You Be Without Fear?

There is a question I ask people inside the “Getting Unshy Workbook”: “Who would you be without any fear or insecurities?” That question is so pivotal when building a brand and navigating life in general because it’s an invitation to think from a place of abundance. That’s where creativity thrives and where your limits are challenged to the point where you have to be honest with yourself. Sometimes the things we believe we’re incapable of doing are only so because we think it.

If I had to answer that question myself, I would be a renowned speaker on stages around the world encouraging and educating people on the topic of being real. Discussing the power of being boldly creative and willing to operate as a trendsetter. I’d be on magazine covers, in well-known articles, and in the media (especially on TV). I’d have successfully cultivated space where trendsetters can thrive and build as creatives. I would love people boldly and represent balance in my work, family, faith, and caring for myself. When people look at me, they would see someone who thinks highly of themselves from a genuine place. Leaving a legacy of creativity that lasts long beyond my time on the earth.

Now that’s a vision to keep me going!

Although insecurity and fear are opponents we will run into many times in our lives, the idea that we have to listen to them is simply a lie. And with intentionality, patience, accountability, and a willingness to change, it’s possible to begin to see those visions become reality. I believe this for myself, and I certainly hope you’re beginning to see it for yourself too.

Here’s What I Want You To Take Away From This:

1. Dimming your light benefits no one: By hiding your true self, you not only hinder your own growth but also deprive others of the inspiration you can offer.

2. Selfishness and fear: These are often the root causes of why we dim our light. Understanding and addressing these fears can help us overcome them.

3. Embracing your light: Being visible and letting your light shine is often a selfless act that benefits not just you but also those around you.

4. Practical benefits: Working with others, such as photographers, can be mutually beneficial. Your confidence and visibility can enhance both your and their brands.

5. Personal growth: Doing the work to overcome fear and insecurity can lead to significant personal and professional growth.

Remember the question posed in the “Getting Unshy Workbook”: “Who would you be without any fear or insecurities?” This question invites you to think from a place of abundance and challenge your limits.

If you’re ready to start embracing your light and overcoming your fears, consider exploring the Getting Unshy Workbook to help guide you on this journey. Your light serves a purpose, and it’s time to let it shine brightly for the world to see.

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