I was working as a teacher’s assistant when I first heard the comment.
“Renata, you’re just too proficient.”
I smiled when the lead teacher said it.
I was so proud that I was good at my job and was being acknowledged for my abilities.
While working as his assistant I had the uncanny ability to provide him with whatever he needed and have it in place before he even realized he needed it.
At the time I didn’t have an inkling that being too proficient would be my downfall.
I would hear “Renata, can you hand me the….”
And before he could finish the sentence whatever he was asking for was placed in his hand.
He would smile and say, “You’re just too proficient.”
It made me feel good knowing that I was able to make his job easier.
Fast forward to a few years later when my supervisor pulled me to the side and said, “You know what you do? – You intimidate people. You are simply too good at what you do and it intimidates people, so they don’t want to work with you. There is absolutely nothing you can do about it, just be aware that when you are too good at what you do it makes other people intimidated.”
I didn’t know at the time that those comments carried as much weight as they do until now.
This blog post is for all the people who are too proficient at their craft(s).
This is for the people who excel at what they do, but instead of being told congratulations they are told, sorry we don’t have a place for you.
I don’t know how many people can relate to this, but I am certain I am not the only one.
So I am going to continue to tap my keyboard until I have finished expressing my thoughts on this matter.
It has been two years since I came to the realization that my problem was in fact that I am too good for many of the things that I seek in life.
If that statement sounds arrogant then to you I say with the utmost respect – this blog post is not for you.
No, this blog post is for the people who know what it is to be one of the best, if not the best, only to have people tell you time after time that you that you are not what they are looking for.
Hearing those words can make you doubt your abilities but something inside of you keeps saying “I know I’m good at what I do”.
For almost a year I had been toying with the notion of diminishing myself so that other people would feel more comfortable around me and I would be viewed as less intimidating.
I actually tried to “dumb myself down” the way that I had been advised to do.
-It didn’t work.
It didn’t work because I cannot pretend to be someone who I am not.
Interviewers saw through my facade and kindly rejected me.
– “You’re overqualified”.
That is what I was told.
I think I could have handled it better if I only heard it in my professional life.
But when I heard it in my romantic life it just compounded the problem.
– “You’re just too good for me.”
I wanted to believe that it was just their kind way of saying that I wasn’t the one, but no, I knew that it meant far more than that.
Yes, sometimes people lie and say that to protect your feelings when they aren’t interested in you, but I knew deep down in my core being that their words were true.
I was, “too good” for them in the same way I was “too proficient” for certain positions.
I have a tendency to settle for people, places, situations and things that I know I can do better than because I am afraid to try to go where my soul cries and says I belong. And yet, I wanted to be accepted by someone, somewhere.
I feared rejection from what I really wanted so I tried to fit in where I didn’t belong.
But life doesn’t work that way!
You have to get in where you fit in.
In attempting to escape rejection from where I felt drawn, I experienced rejection from where I settled.
When you don’t resonate with people, they will reject you.
It doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with you. But it does mean you are not the right fit.
Sure you can go about fitting square pegs into round holes, but it is far simplier to fit the round peg in the round hole and the square peg in the square hole.
And yet far too many of us get caught up wondering why are we round instead of square or not appreciating that we are square instead of round or God forbid feeling distraught that we are rectangular, triangular or oval!
We wonder why we aren’t something instead of embracing what we are and connecting to that which we are designed for.
Round pegs look around and all they claim to see is a world full of square holes.
Never mind the fact that it is uncomfortable trying to jam themselves into the lives of square holes – they just want to fit in no matter the magnitude of discomfort!
Sure the round pegs might see a couple of round holes here or there but from their point of view it seems like they are too far away and perhaps they wouldn’t even want to get know said round peg, so round pegs decide you know maybe good ole square hole will do.
After jamming their way in and filling totally uncomfortable eventually round hole looks over at the square peg or perhaps the square peg looks over at round hole and says “look this here isn’t working for me”.
And this leads to the painful process of the round peg being removed from the square hole where they both end up with scars.
We fail to recognize that if we are not the right fit for them then logically they are not the right fit for us.
When a round hole is rejected by a square peg, the round hole has a tendency to think there isn’t a place for them in this world.
For example in my case, I remember getting mad when I heard I deserved better because as I saw it better never came.
I was tired of waiting for better and I tried time and time again to settle.
But as I stated earlier what I settled for eventually rejected me.
I knew the entire time I deserved better than what didn’t fit me and that which did not fit knew it as well.
Thankfully, I have finally arrived at a place where I recognize that if someone doesn’t want my services because I am “too proficient” then I should go where my services are wanted, needed and desired.
I used to cry when I didn’t get a position I thought I wanted.
Now I thank God for redirecting me.
I have faith that the reason things didn’t work out the way I hoped is because there is something better coming.
I sincerely don’t get upset any more.
Those people know their work environment far better than I do. They know whether or not I am a good institutional fit.
Them telling me no isn’t a signal for me to give up and think that there is something wrong with me. No it is a signal to keep refining myself, honing my craft and becoming my best self.
I have spent far too much time out of my life trying to get people who don’t accept me, to accept me.
And so it goes with my dating life.
If someone doesn’t want to date me because they don’t think they have what it takes to make me happy, I will no longer try to convince them that they can.
Those people know themselves better than I do.
So I will take their word for it.
If they say I am too good, it’s because I am.
I will not wait for them to rise up to my standard because all it will do is bring me down to their low level.
No, I will seek people, places, situations and things of my caliber.
No more trying in vain to tone myself down so I can be accepted.
Like others who are deemed as “too proficient” I shine far too bright to sink into a crowd.
When you are too proficient there is just something about you that informs people of your greatness without you even uttering a word.
I used to think my shine was only valid if others gave it a nod or congratulated me on it.
No, I shine because I have no other choice but to shine.
I will be honest tonight I was thinking about billing myself as less than what I am because I was tired of being rejected.
I thought perhaps I will just try one more time to downplay myself so I can fit in somewhere.
I held that moment up until I watched Eleanor Powell dance.
Watching her dance made me realize I will not hide my light under a bushel in an attempt to make someone else accept me.
Nope, I’m going to live my life, like Eleanor Powell danced.
For those of you asking yourself who is Eleanor Powell, I am more than happy to introduce her story to you.
Eleanor Powell has been credited as one of the best American dancers to ever grace the silver screen
She may not be a household name like that of Fred Astaire but it isn’t because she wasn’t as good as him.
Truth be told, the reason she isn’t as recognized as Fred Astaire is because she was “too proficient”.
You see Eleanor was dancing at a time when it was thought that the role of a woman dancing was to make her male partner look good.
Back then women weren’t supposed to dance as good a man, they were supposed to make the man’s performance shine.
But when it came to dancing, Eleanor Powell made herself shine, because she could dance equal to and better than a man.
When watching her dance with the great Fred Astaire many people couldn’t take their eyes off of her because her skill, grace and precision were so dynamic.
As you can view in the clip provided, she was able to dance as good as, if not better than the great Fred Astaire.
And that was the problem.
After working with her in Broadway Melody Fred Astaire decided to never work with her again.
His reasoning, he stated was that “Eleanor Powell, one of our greatest talents, is a bit too powerful for me,” he said. “I love Eleanor Powell, but she dances like a man. She’s a remarkable dancer, but she has a mannish style, and she’s a little big for me.”
Her great dancing ability made it hard for her to find work.
Because she was just “too proficient”.
But that didn’t stop her from dancing.
While she was only featured in 14 films there was no denying her ability.
In his autobiography Steps in Time, Astaire remarked, “She ‘put’ em down like a man’, no ricky-ticky-sissy stuff with Ellie. She really knocked out a tap dance in a class by herself.”
So after some reflection I have purposed to live my life like Eleanor danced.
No more “ricky-ticky-sissy” stuff even if it means I have to shine solo, I’m going to shine.
Thank you Eleanor!
© Renata Pittman Smith, Renata Nicole and RenataNicole, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Renata Pittman Smith and RenataNicole with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.