You’re Too Much
I was packing my things up to leave the classroom when an older girl hissed at me to hurry up.
“You’re too slow, Camille,” she said. “Slow and stupid.”
Kids can be cruel, can’t they? I was only in third grade, but even at that young age I thought her words were unnecessarily mean. Nonetheless, they stuck with me and I remember them to this day.
I don’t think I worried about being stupid, but “slow”… that word burrowed itself somewhere inside me.
Perhaps it was that, because of my heart condition, I was terrified of being called out for being physically slow. But I think it was also because it touched on something else: my tendency towards reflection and thoughtfulness.
More than two decades later a boss gave me some criticism.
“You strike me as someone who likes to think about things,” she said. It wasn’t a compliment. She wanted me to do as I was told, without question, reflection or hesitation.
“You’re too thoughtful,” she said, shaking her head and making notes on my review form.
She wasn’t totally wrong. I mean, I’m efficient and productive; I get things done. (In fact, I’ve also been told I do “too much”, and should work less hard.) But I do like to think about things. I like to unpack concepts and ideas. I like to reflect. I like to wander and take the long way around sometimes. This quality makes me a better writer and editor, and it makes me who I am. (And I know this because I’ve taken my time and thought about it. Yep, there’s that slow-moving thoughtfulness again.)
Besides, if I wasn’t “too thoughtful” — or too sensitive, or too independent, or too weird, or any of the other things I’ve been told I am — than I wouldn’t be here right now, writing to you.
I’ve learned that what matters more than what other people call us is the story we tell ourselves.
And so, I’ve made a practice of re-writing these types stories for myself. In fact, I even celebrated slowness in my latest book. Case in point, this poem:
And this one:
Have you ever been told you’re “too much” of something?
We all have qualities that we’ve been criticized for. Sometimes those criticisms come in the form of compliments… but they still carry a certain sting.
With this in mind, I recently asked a question on Facebook: What quality have you been told you have (in a back-handed or critical way)? And how do you think about that quality now?
Turns out, loads of people have been told they’re “too much” of something.
It seems that “too muchness” runs the gamut. Apparently we can be too loud or too quiet; too sensitive or too tough; too needy or too independent; too fragile or too formidable; too stubborn or too trusting; too straightforward or too dramatic… the list goes on.
With that in mind, let me ask you this:
What’s your story?
What’s your story about those things that you’ve been labeled?
What do those qualities offer you?
How do they help you be YOU?
As people answered my Facebook post and all the stories of being “too much” started to roll in, I had a thought: Maybe what we really have here is abundance.
So know this, I don’t think you’re too much of anything.
I think you are just an abundance of you.
Keep being all that you are.