Stop Playing Small…

The gray sky looked like I felt. The trees swayed with the wind and at times bent enough that I thought they would snap…just like me. Can the branches take any more? Can the roots hold? Can I handle any more, I thought, as I watched the wind whip a bit of the leaves up and swirl above the pool cover? The rain hit the window with a fierceness that startled me out of my daydream. The day began and I wanted to crawl back under the covers instead of dressing and going out into the public and talk to people. I want to scream at people. I want to shake those who are talking about trivial petty bullshit. I want yell at every person, “don’t you know how precious life is, and stop wasting it!” Stop being small.

I see this smallness everywhere now. I see it with the types of things people attempt to talk about. I see it the behavior of people who are supposed to be smart executives, playing petty games. I hear it in how people describe what is important to them. I see it in how everyone behaves. I am sure I am being small as well, being petty as well, although I am trying not to be.

Playing small has been me a lot of my life. Fear has always kept me from playing really big. The bigger the scarier in my book. What risks or leaps of faith have I taken lately? One of the biggest risks or leaps I ever took to play bigger was accepting a work assignment in Tokyo. That took guts on my part. I didn’t know anyone who was going to be there with me and I was going to be 7000 miles away from everything I knew, in a culture I didn’t fit into and a language I didn’t know. Yet it was the best 5 months I ever spent working 80 hours a week. I remember when I was asked to consider the assignment, the first call I made was to my parents. My mom was excited and told me that I should feel great that my company had that level of faith in me. My parents supported my going and made me feel safe enough and secure enough in me to take this leap.  They gave me the strength to jump.

I haven’t taken that type of leap in a long time. My fears have gotten stronger and my confidence a bit weaker. I wonder if I can do something before I even try sometimes. I let my mind stop me.  I am trying to say “play big Suzy” to myself but then I laugh at it, and hear again my inner skeptic saying, “you will fall on your face when you jump, Suzy.” And now no Mom to say, “take the leap Suzy you always land on your feet, and I have your back.”

You may recall when I first started writing this blog I wrote about fear a lot. In fact one blog speaks to what fear could stand for, false expectations appearing real. Right now, that is where I am stuck. Feeling as if reality is I will fall down if play big, reality is I expect I will fail. Why would that mindset be where I go naturally? I haven’t failed a lot in life, and failures, in a growth mindset, really focus on moving forward, you have to fail in order to succeed. I think about children learning to walk. They fall. They fall a lot. But they get back up and keep moving because falling is a part of growing. Why am I so afraid of falling?

As I think about my fears, the tears begin to roll down my cheek. I am scared because I don’t have faith. I don’t have faith in me. I don’t have faith in my support system. I don’t have faith in God or the Universe. I wasn’t raised to have faith in God or the Universe yet I have always thought I was spiritual. Now I am beginning to realize that I need to go on a journey to gain that faith.

Over the summer, my 27 year old cousin hiked the Colorado trail herself. She walked for almost 500 miles through the Rockies from Denver to Durango. At times she had family or friends meet her along the trail, she slept under the stars at times and in hostels at times and crashed on friends’ couches when she needed a warm shower and good meal along the way. She was fierce and fearless in her trek. She inspired me to think about whether I could play that big. She didn’t let fear stop her.

She learned a lot about herself and others. She has a confidence about her now that is different and knows that she could do whatever she puts her mind to. Her mind is clear.

That is how I felt when I returned from Japan. I was successful in the work project and successful in growing as a person. I made friends that I still have and went on treks alone that were spiritual and helped me find a bit of me. I have lost some of that confidence and faith. I know I need to find it again.

Stop playing small. That is what I am telling myself now, stop playing small. Life isn’t small.


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