“Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.” – Marianne Williamson
A couple weeks ago, I visited the home of a childhood friend who had recently lost her father.
Upon entering the home I was introduced to several people already reclining comfortably in the living room. In times past, I would have located a seat in a far corner and only engaged in conversation when invited. This hiding in plain sight was a coping mechanism I developed as a younger woman, in an effort to manage the anxiety of entering new social settings.
There was a time when I simply avoided networking and small talk. Now I understand its necessity in the world we live in and have learned to enjoy it. I no longer stumble over my words or become preoccupied with how I am being perceived. Instead, I can confidently engage in conversation with the wit, intelligence and charisma that was lying dormant beneath a distorted self image.
I sat on a plush, velvet couch next to a tall, thin, articulate young woman who commanded attention without even trying. Her voice projected. She wasn’t loud, but she was sure. Sure of who she was and of her abilities.
Turns out, my friend’s old college roommate owns a consulting business based on her experiences traveling abroad to Japan and teaching Japanese as a second language. She used her passion and experiences to create a thriving business; something I desperately hope to do some day.
As she spoke I listened intently, searching for a hole in her story that would discredit her bigness.
As the residual instinct to devalue her accomplishment crept up from my negative inner talk to my psyche, I immediately reassessed my motives. In a split second I asked myself, What is it about this woman that makes me feel so small that I feel the need to shrink her in order to feel validated and affirmed?
I inwardly admitted that my envy had nothing to do with her but everything to do with the fact that as a successful entrepreneur she was experiencing the kind of financial and professional freedom I dream of. The only difference between us is that I was still talking about my business ideas while she had executed hers into reality.
The moment I realized that my smallness had nothing to do with her, my perspective shifted to a place of learning.
I continued to listen intently, this time for nuggets of wisdom that I might be able to implement while devising my own plan of action. I asked questions to gain insight about how she got started and the kind of resources others could provide. She was proof that my vision to own and operate my own business is possible. And because she had already traveled down the bumpy road toward entrepreneurship, she possessed valuable information that she was more than willing to share.
I shudder to think of how many other opportunities to learn I have forfeited because of my insecurities.
I am grateful to now be self-aware enough to recognize when my insecurities are guiding my thoughts. I now understand that there is no need to shrink myself or feel small in the presence of bigness. If anything, I should rejoice that I am attracting greatness and excellence into my life.
Because if the statement “We attract what we are ready for” is true, I am ready for something big!
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