How to answer someone who asks, “who do you think you are?”

This is a powerful quote that has always moved me. Even my students who are “hard” usually show some sign of resonance when I read these words to them. Read this out loud to yourself. Come on, give it a try. 😉

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

by Marianne Williamson from A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles

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5 thoughts on “How to answer someone who asks, “who do you think you are?”

  1. Great quote, Megan, which is very thought provoking to me. My maternal grandmother always had an admonishment as I would leave the house as a teenager…”Remember who you are.” In my sassy way, I would smartmouth back my name. But, her point was well taken, as far as who we are in family and expectations of our family.

    I also had the chance to participate in a summer program for gifted and talented kids as a pre-teen, and the message there was “From those to whom much is given, much is expected.” I wore this expectation heavily, and it rubbed a raw spot where it bumped against my Quaker/southern family value of humility above all (or so it seemed). I think I have struggled with that conflict ever since, although not always consciously. The quote you give brings these issues to the fore of a much more mature 63-year old, and maybe I will be able to fully let myself shine through whatever tarnished layers that have built up over the years.

  2. …another quick more humorous thought. As a teenager, a great friend and I took orchestra in school, and we always hated after school practices. We cut up as 14-year olds, and loved to jazz up certain songs we were rehearsing, in our juvenile and poorly-played way . One day in rehearsal, our orchestra director stopped in the middle of a piece on which we were improvising, rapped his baton on his music stand, glared at us and shouted “Just who do you think you are!”

    We had actually planned our response: We stood up and in unison and sang a commercial jingle of that era: “We crackle ’cause we’re crisp, we taste better ’cause we’re fresh, we are treats full of zip, we are Lays Potato Chips!” …and then ran for our lives as he started down the aisle after us.

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