Our Playing Small Does Not Serve the World

Millennial Mom's face, smiling brightly.
Our Playing Small Does Not Serve the World, 2015, oil on canvas, 76.2 x 61 cm, 30 x 24 in

 “The saddest part of life lies not in the act of dying but in failing to live while we are alive. Too many of us play small with our lives, never letting the fullness of our humanity see the light of day.”

I found this quote in one of my journals, unfortunately without an author credit. I love this message. Let me tell you why…

I was raised in a small, close-knit, rural community where family, hard work and humility are deeply-held values. The expression, “he/she thinks highly of herself” was a criticism, rather than a compliment toward someone who was confident, held big dreams, and was unafraid to shine.

Such a culture can be crippling, and isolating, creating shame and doubt around success, and daring to be different or pursue ambitions. How can it help our society to keep everyone small?

I’m not promoting arrogance or pretentiousness, as I do value modesty, in that I believe our talents are channeled through us, so they are not entirely to our credit. But I DO think we should think highly of ourselves. We all have our gifts, and the more we let ourselves be amazing in those abilities, without fear that we are being too “big-thinking” (another local expression of disapproval), the better our world is served. We should love ourselves and honour our gifts as the miracles they are. And the cultivation of our talents and aspirations is our service to humanity and to God.

This is not a new concept. I’ll leave you with Marianne Williamson’s oft-quoted writing, a passage of which Millennial Mom retells:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine as children do.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”


One Comment

  1. Carol Pippy

    So true. We need to let our light shine for our self and others.

    Liked by 1 person

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