3 Stories that Kept Me Playing Small


Marianne Williamson wrote in her beloved poem, A Return to Love :

"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." This is a portion of one of my favorite poems. These sentences provide clues to the "stories" that I was telling myself that resulted in me playing small when I returned to my hometown of Columbia, SC in 2008. 


The following "story lines" provides you with a glimpse of the narratives taking place in my mind:

  • I believed that the people that I loved and cared about the most would think that I was thinking "too much of myself". And, as in the past, I would feel disconnected from many of them because I chose to continue to follow the beat in my soul instead of settling for the status quo, especially since I am now middle age and "should be" settled, so to speak.
  • My initial attempts to make connections with individuals similar interests, ie domestic violence, youth mentoring and leadership development and personal empowerment of individuals living in the Columbia Housing apartments failed. It seemed to have been so easy for me to make contact and build relationships with people in Wilmington  NC and I became disheartened after numerous calls and no response from individuals in Columbia, SC involved in my areas of interest.
  • In the attempt to respect the community service playing field and not step on anyone else toes, I wanted to play nice. As the new kid dipping her toes into community service, I didn't want to come off as thinking that I know more than I do, because I do have an assertive personality.
I realized after leaving Columbia, SC in 2011 and returning to Wilmington, NC only to return back to Columbia in 2012 because of a family matter that... I don't need any one's permission to serve people that I believe my knowledge and talents can help. Nor do I have to be in the "community service in-crowd" to help people. The harvest is plentiful.


If members of my family or friends think that I am thinking too much of myself because I can see the value that I can contribute toward serving people with my knowledge, experience and unique ability then they will have to get over themselves. They have a right to their opinion. However, at the end of the day, I have authority over my life to live it as best I believe it is meant to be lived.

I would love to have more community connections in Columbia, and I believe that in the years to come I will. But, for now, I have to "play the hand that I've been dealt" as my parents would say and use what I got now. As I begin to take bigger steps towards my career and community service activities, I believe without a shadow of a doubt that what I will have need of, my path will lead me to the resources available or the people who will help me to create those resources.

I needed to call a spade a spade and stop using isolated incidents to be a "reason" why I wasn't taking the action that I knew deep within my soul is a part of my life's purpose.

You see, it doesn't matter how much you know on a subject, and I have completed a reasonable amount of research on how our "stories" influence the behavior that creates our quality of life. I must remain diligent in challenging the stories that I tell myself when I am not experiencing the progress in an area that believe is possible.

We are human. And, so we are vulnerable to fluctuations in our mindset, emotions and behaviors. Daily practices that help us to manage the fluctuations of our state of mind, emotion and behaviors increases our capacity to deliver consistent results day after day. Consistency in the execution of best practices in any area of our life is a game changer.

You and I are expressions of our Creator. We are meant to shine our light so that those around us can "see" that it is possible for them to do the same. Our lives can minister love, peace and hope to others when we stop allowing fear-based stories dictate which actions we will take so that others don't feel insecure. We're not responsible for  catering to other people's insecurities. We are responsible for being good stewards of the knowledge and talents we have and making sure that we are continuously sowing them into fertile ground to bring forth a harvest that glorifies God and supports the highest good of others.

Grow Forward & Flourish Assignment:

Identify one area in your life in which you "know" deep within yourself that you are playing small. You know that you are capable of so much more, yet you haven't stepped up to play a bigger game. I want you to as much as possible, trace the story that you are telling yourself back to the fear-based thought that you had when you first considered stepping up your game, but you didn't.

Once you identify the fear-based thought that is often unconsciously influencing your "settling for" behavior, challenge it with facts vs the assumptions that has been feeding it. Once you  have facts that dispute your fear, identify the smallest steps you can take to move forward and begin to take them. Do something everyday and see where it gets you!

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Thank you for connecting, contributing and sharing. You are helping me to make a difference in our world. I appreciate you.

Grow Forward & Flourish

Jackie B

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