Playing Small


There are days when I feel like shutting it all down. I have this romantic vision of selling all my things, living in an Airstream, and essentially falling off the face of the earth while I travel the world and become a textile artist – and even *gasp* NOT blog about it. This fantasy, as wonderful as it sounds, is usually spurred when I feel the need to escape The Critics and The Gremlins, both external and internal, in work and life. I “go there” when I’m afraid to show up and be seen. So, I came across this quote by Marianne Williamson the other day and it resonated big time. I’m not 100% on board with the “God” phrasing, personally, but the core message rang loud and true:

“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’s not just in some of us; it’s 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.” – Marianne Williamson

Okay, so it’s still very possible that one day I may ditch all of my worldly belongings to become a gypsy and a fine artist, but I don’t think I’ll ever have it in me to stop living out loud along the way.

  1. Substitute “reclusive novelist” for “fine artist” and I feel the exact same way.

  2. Traci

    I read that first quote (in my very favorite color by the way! I have a feeling it’s yours too…based on everything about this website) about 4 times. Yes.

  3. Dave

    This is my inspiration for the day.

  4. Crystal

    I substituted “Universe” for “God” and it was perfect for me. Sending well wishes into the Universe for you and the family, wherever your path may take you!

  5. Carrie

    Yep. I needed to read that. I hate it when folks can’t receive my energy — I am the one that feels bad about that. (Thus I should be more demure/compliant/unassertive/less happy/etc.) But clearly I need to embrace my ________ more and bring it…every day! THX!

  6. I LOVE this quote so so much. Heard it for the first time at a conference last year and it just struck such a cord. I truly believe there is no coincidence when we come across words like this. I encountered these same words at a time where I was letting certain people in my life steal my light and the minute I heard this it was like a slap in the face. Keep up the good fight warrior mama and never let those Gremlins steal your light, try as they may and they will…bastards 😉

  7. gloria

    Every time I read this quote, it just pierces me. It speaks directly to my feelings of inadequacy and squashes it, and then time goes by and I start to forget.. I think I need to read this every day.

  8. Uhg. I am SO. Guilty. Of this. I do this all the time and it’s really annoying everyone around me (they tell me so), but I don’t realize I’m doing it. It’s just how I’ve grown to talk about myself and what I do. I’m scared to attempt to change it for fear I’ll come off as awkwardly cocky. I guess the simplest way to stop talking so small is to simply state the facts. …I even suck at doing that in a non-belittling way.

    I really need to keep this quote near me and read it often. I should print it out and hang it near my desk.

    Thanks for this. I need it.

    p.s. part of my “playing small” problem stems from being unsure of my talents because I don’t have the “official on-paper credentials” to back it up. (My college degree is in Veterinary Technology, not Fine Art …like I should be less proud of that?! wtf.) So I’m taking a textile design course in the spring! That will give me the confidence boost I need to start throwing my portfolio at people, and work towards being that real life gypsy textile artist 😉

  9. Carrie Carter

    So good. I have been dragging my feet on publishing my website and blog and blaming the fact that I have been very busy with client work. (which is true) But I think the real reason is that I’m afraid. It has been a long long time since I have put myself out there to really be seen. Last time I put myself ‘out there’ I was 26ish… as I’ve grown to be more secure in who I am (at 33), I seem to have grown more afraid of sharing it. huh. weird.

  10. OrigamiGirl

    I’m quite fond of that quotation. I think I saw it on Brain Pickings a while ago. I like to tell myself that I am not really insecure, maybe I really am fabulous like she says. It’s a nice and comforting thoughts. Especially as I am trying to reassess my career at the moment.

  11. Stacia

    I adore this. Absolutely adore this. Definitely needed this boost today. Thanks!

  12. This is my favorite quote. My friend Lara Casey always references it in her coaching work too – it’s so important for all of us small business owners to go full force with everything we have and try not to be afraid of critics. Can someone make this as a poster please?????

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  14. She (Marianne Williamson) nails the spirit of creatives and the gypsy-hearted set with her words and teachings. When I feel that sense of reclusiveness and the desire to “shut it all off” I know it’s time to take a day or two or three “off” – pull back and tend to myself – so I can get back to the business of living out loud with more ferocity and self-love.

    Thank you for sharing!

  15. Amielle

    This is one of my favourite quotes of ever! One of my friends gifted me a journal with this quote pasted in the front and it helped me so much during that year. Thanks for bringing it back to my attention!!

  16. I think everyone gets a little overwhelmed by all of the “noise” coming at them day in and day out thanks to technology these days. Sometimes it is nice to just unplug and get away from it all. I can definitely understand the gypsy dreams. But I love that you still live out loud as well! I only stumbled onto your blog a few weeks ago but you’ve already been so inspiring for me! Rock on sistah!

    • I’m so glad you stumbled this way! I’ll keep rocking on – and you too! XO

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  18. I’m an engineer and my dream since the second week at my perfectly sufficient job has been to let it go and go live in my home country with my husband and raise our [future] babies. Some days, almost six years into my job, I just want to scream, shout, and head out.

    But instead we have spent the last three years building our get-away dream. So when I want to get away from it all, I realize that it is my impatience speaking and focus on the dream because doing what I am doing right now is actually my playing it small.

    Thank you for sharing this quote, it’s going on my desk.

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