Have you ever been told that you’re too much? You’re too fat, too skinny, too loud, too quiet, etc.? Or that your personality was too much? You’re too sensitive, too dramatic, or even too happy or too curious? It’s only recently that I’ve realized that when someone tells us that we’re too much, it’s most often about what they are feeling and dealing with, rather than it being anything to do with me at all. When people tell us that we’re too much, what they are really saying is that they aren’t comfortable with us being our authentic selves, or expressing ourselves fully.
Let me give you some examples from my own life to illustrate what I’m talking about:
One time, I was at a concert with a friend of mine, and I excitedly said something (I don’t even remember what I said). This was accompanied by me flailing my arms out and jumping. She just kind of looked at me. I asked, “Am I wrong?” She said, “No. That was just really weird. You’re being too much.”
Me letting my personality run wild like that at other times has been met with statements of, “oh wow, calm down”, or “that was a little over the top”.
So, over the years I’ve learned to tamp my personality down to suit whomever I’m with. So much so that I really don’t show my full self to many people, at least not until I get to know them a little better. I’m too afraid that I’ll be made fun of, or criticized, or rejected if I do.
Another time, when I was at a movie with friends, I laughed out loud at something funny. One of my friends leaned over and said, “Wow! Was it really that funny? That was kind of an obnoxious laugh.” A little while later, they made fun of another friend of mine because she was belly laughing as well. I did hear anything wrong with it but, after this, anytime I was around this friend, I would make sure that if I laughed, I would do so more quietly, or I would just smile. I didn’t want to be considered obnoxious again.
On a physical level, for the longest time, I wouldn’t wear any type of shirt that I thought was even remotely low cut, revealing, or the least bit tight. There were a few different instances when I did, that I was told I was trying too hard to get attention, or that I shouldn’t be distracting. I was told that when I wore those things, I seemed intimidating. So, I stopped wearing any type of clothing that would be perceived in any of those ways. I didn’t want to be known as “that girl”. Even though I wasn’t sure what “that girl” even meant. I just knew that I didn’t want to be on the receiving end of the harsh comments.
It never really occurred to me that the problem wasn’t with me, it was with the other person, until I talked to a friend recently about how we were brought up to not ever be “too much”.
We were always told: don’t make yourself too pretty, you’ll make people feel bad about themselves, or intimidate people. But don’t “let yourself go” because then people won’t like you. Don’t be too loud because people will think you’re being annoying or pushy. But don’t be too quiet because people will run all over you or ignore you completely.
Be good, but not too good. Have self-respect, but don’t act like you’re better that other people. Don’t be naïve, but don’t ask too many questions. Take only what you absolutely need, but don’t take too much because there is only so much to go around. Be affectionate, but not slutty. Be smart, but not too smart. Be a good conversationalist, but don’t talk too much.
The list goes on and on.
No wonder we always feel like we have to be perfect or we’ve failed completely.
We were always told to be the perfect mixture of everything or we wouldn’t fit in, we wouldn’t be happy, and we wouldn’t be successful. We were constantly being given conflicting information. The worst thing that we could ever be was “too much”.
But no one ever really talked about whether or not we really wanted to fit in with the people we were trying so hard to be perfect for.
They never talked about being fully ourselves, fully authentic, and finding people who liked us for who we were. It was hinted at occasionally, but the overarching theme was, be perfect in everything you do.
While some of this was borderline good advice…most of it was rubbish, and it left us feeling like we never measured up.
On top of that, we felt like we could never question any of this because we were supposed to speak up and make our voices heard, but not be disrespectful and question authority figures.
I’m not saying that the people who raised us were terrible people. They just had their own issues and insecurities that dictated how they dealt with and taught us. Most of the time, this is how they were taught to be, and their children before them, and so on. Some didn’t know any better because it’s how they were raised. Some knew better, but weren’t willing or able to question the norm. But really, they were all doing the best they could at the time with what they were given. Our parents, like us, have their own journeys.
But, because of all of this perfect talk, because I never wanted to be seen as too much, I’ve always been careful not to go too far in one direction or the other.
I didn’t want to “flaunt myself” while I was exercising, or anytime really, so I was self-conscious about what I wore. I didn’t want to seem to pushy or overbearing, so I didn’t always voice my opinion, unless people asked. I didn’t want to be seen as “that kind of wife” so I didn’t like to ask my husband to go to the store for me, even if I could really use the help. For that matter, I didn’t like to ask for help at all because I didn’t want to bother anyone.
I’ve been careful who I talk to about things that are bothering me because I don’t want to be seen as too emotional, too sensitive, or too weak.
I try not to talk too much about upcoming trips, or things I’m excited about, because I don’t want to make anyone else feel bad if they don’t have those things.
I’ve been afraid to have a house that’s too big, make too much money, or be too happy, because I don’t want people to think that I’m just showing off.
But really… who exactly determines what is too much?
And if I’m not supposed to ever be “too much”, how exactly am I supposed to be?
Do I literally have to be a different version of myself around every person or group that I’m with?
If that’s the case, will I ever be able to fully be myself with anyone? And on that note, how will I ever know what “myself” looks like if I’m never fully her and I’m always playing a different part?
What can we do to help ourselves not get trapped in thinking that we’re too much, and make ourselves small, or be less than authentic?
I’m here to tell you that if anyone ever tells you that you’re too much, 99.9% of the time, it’s more about them than it is about you. I wish that someone had told me this years ago.
To be sure, you can first take being told that you’re too much as a cue for exploration.
Did you say or do something that was completely off base? Did you say or do something that you would consider offensive if it was directed towards you? Were you unkind to someone, or down right mean?
There are times in life when our behavior requires us to go back and apologize. Sometimes we’re having a bad day and we take it out on other people. From time to time we lash out at one person, when we’re really upset with someone else entirely, or with ourselves.
If this is the case, and the person who tells you that you’re too much is someone that you trust to tell you when you’re acting out of line, and out of alignment with yourself, then take the time to rectify the situation, and move on.
If not, then take being told that you’re too much as a compliment, because it means that you’re being yourself. When someone tells you that you’re being too much, say thank you.
People tend to judge those that are trying to be their most authentic selves. They sometimes wish that they could do the same, but won’t allow themselves to for whatever reason, so they get upset that you have found a way to be yourself. Or, they genuinely aren’t someone that you connect with and it’s time to change the relationship status.
The other thing to explore is whether or not someone actually told you that you’re too much, or if you just feel like you’re too much.
This takes some real honesty with yourself.
If you think that people around you think you’re too much, but no one has ever actually said anything like this, then start paying close attention to how you’re talking about others. Because generally it means that we’ve been judging others harshly, so we assume others are judging us in the same way.
Are you saying other people are too much? When you see someone who is overweight, do you make fun of them, or talk about how they should eat less or exercise more? If someone is scared of something, or crying, do you consider them emotional and tell them to pull themselves together, stop being a wuss, or to quit being a baby?
Whatever you think people are judging you for, ask yourself if you’re judging others in that same way. If you think that people are looking down on you, ask yourself, do I look down on other people? If you think that people think you’re ugly, have you made comments about how ugly others are? If you think people are being rude, when was the last time you were rude to someone?
Again, this takes being brutally honest with ourselves about how we’re treating other people, which is not always comfortable.
But judging others for being too much is our way of lashing out because we aren’t happy with ourselves in some way. So if we can learn to love those things that we consider less than perfect about ourselves, and begin to show understanding towards others, then that feeling of constantly being judged by others will start to go away.
Really though, you’re always going to be too much, or not enough, for some people.
There are going to be some people in your life that you just can’t seem to please. There will be those that don’t like you, and you have no idea why.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to get to know your true authentic self and then be the biggest, brightest, most amazing version of that self that you can be. And don’t worry what others think. Because ultimately, the only person who can decide that you’re being too much, is you!