Crank up the light.

It all started back in high school.

I’ve always had a semi-photographic memory and I can retain big sections of text in my mind and repeat them back verbatim. My classmates would tease me about this and call me a “teacher’s pet” or a “know it all.”

Over time, I got tired of “standing out.” So I started pretending that I “couldn’t remember.”

I played dumb.

I’d say to a classmate, “What was the point of Chapter 11?” or “What does that word mean?” or “What’s our homework assignment again?” even though I already knew the answer.

I didn’t think about it like this at the time, but looking back I can see that I was downplaying my abilities — “toning it down” — in order to feel accepted by my peers.

This is a really dangerous habit.

Unfortunately, it’s very common — especially among women and girls.

A recent university study shows that “girls feel the need to play down their intelligence to not intimidate boys.”

Another study suggests that girls downplay their intelligence online because being “smart” doesn’t translate into “online currency” (aka: attention and acceptance) as much as being “fun” does.

Can we all just… stop this?

This is a message to everyone (and mostly to myself):

Pretending to be less happy, less smart, or less ambitious than you really are does NOT help you, your community or the planet.

“Your playing small does not serve the world,” says Marianne Williamson. Amen to that.

If someone is jealous because of something you can do, that’s their issue, not yours. The reverse is true as well. If someone’s magnificence makes you feel small and unimportant by comparison, that’s your issue, not theirs.

Don’t downplay your wonderfulness. It’s not helpful. It’s not accurate. It’s not right.

Crank up the light.