Pigmalion

Yesterday, I met a woman I admire. Beside other things because she is unconventional in her way of thinking or doing. Passion and curiosity move her and it is a privilege to be with someone whose eyes shine when she talks about what she does. And why she does it.

The dream was there without hiding

She told me that she is finally going to fulfil a dream. She was going to dare to do something that she is passionate about. Something that is not part of her job now but maybe her job in the future. She is going to expose herself to doing something new, in what she is a beginner.

It was funny because she didn’t say a single “I should” while she was telling me; not a single “I have to”; not a single “I must do”. There were only I want, I feel like it and I’m excited. The force behind her words was thunderous and exciting. The dream was there without hiding.

At one point a hesitation flew over us: who am I to do this. Because of course, I am nobody. I am an outsider. And if it turns out that my work is not worth it, if they ask me about it and I don’t know what to say, what to answer. “Maybe I would have to invent a character” — she told me.

It seemed like a different person than the one who had spoken to me up to that moment. The dream had given way to something else: fear. And fear spoke of “I have” and “I should”. It was as if that surround sound Technicolor film suddenly turned into a silent black and white one.

I told her what I see

So I told her what I see. I told her that she seemed to me an outstanding woman, completely out of the ordinary. Someone who does not settle, who seeks what she is passionate about. Someone who dares to expose herself and keep trying; who looks in the mirror every day and wonders if she is doing what she wants or what she has to do. And I asked her: do you know how uncommon that is? Do you know about people who don’t even dare to ask themselves what would make them happy?

Just the day before I finished a book called An Education by Tara Westover. And there’s a lot of this: “The most powerful determinant of who you are is inside you […] She was just a cockney in a nice dress. Until she believed in herself. Then it didn’t matter what dress she wore.”

We just have to tell the person in front of us what we see for the magic to happen

And sometimes we just have to tell the person in front of us what we see for the magic to happen: for her to believe in it. This is the Pygmalion effect. How long have you not told someone how extraordinary you see in them? Watch what happens. You may be surprised.