On public transportation, and even in meetings, I see people taking up lots of space. Elbows out, bodies slanted across two lanes of chairs and knees spread far more than hip-width apart–the popular name is manspreading. But when I read Presence by Amy Cuddy 5 years ago, I decided to give it a try.

There is a particular sensation in taking up space. Taking up more than my share of space seems decadence. I wondered about my male colleagues who seem to take up space without a second thought. Do they think that that is their share? Or are they sure that the world will always give them a decadent helping?

Last night I finished In Praise of Difficult Women: Life Lessons from 29 Heroines Who Dared to Break the Rules by Karen Karbo. The women showcased were quite willing to take up their space.

They had the confidence or the drive–something or other–letting them go against the borders of what could be seen as their fair share. These 29 women were seen, heard and remembered.

Being big makes an impression.

I’m thinking of this as I return from tonight’s acting improv class. This class that lets me pretend–on so many levels–to be what I am not. The teacher coached me “You need to go bigger. The theater requires it.”

She explained that my volume and intensity were fine–if I were having a private conversation.

But I have a bigger audience. Swing for the fences!

I have been told more than once that when I am nervous I speak far more softly than normal. Like a damper took me down 3 notches. I could try it another way.

Say it loud. Show my emotions unmistakably. Make it clear what I want.

This is very practical advice for a theatrical performance. And I am holding it up against the stories of the 29 difficult women. This is how they lived. It’s how they made their mark. I am now contemplating what my various theaters require from me.