Your Playing Small Does Not Serve the World
‘There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so other people do not feel insecure around you…’
It has recently come to my attention that through my choice to go ‘learn myself something’ at university this has alienated me from certain circles, friendship groups and associates. I somehow got put on a kind of a pedestal and seen, threateningly, as a species from another world. Little eyes observed and analysed me from the shadows and I almost felt guilty for daring to try and better myself. Almost.
I was reminded of that African proverb – It you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. It momentarily seemed a selfish and indulgent choice, to go and study and make particular life choices. I have alienated my peers and have chosen a lonely road. People don’t ’know’ me anymore. I asked myself why I was even doing this anyway. It is hard work, it takes focus, discipline and motivation. Why would you do that when you could just be down at the pub like everyone else?
Then, I was comforted by the words of Marianne Williamson that echoed in my mind as she spoke of our greatest fear.
[Side note: It is important to add at this conjuncture and make it clear that I still know absolutely NOTHING! Of all the things I have learnt in my past two years studying, I am still relatively ignorant. For all the knowledge that there is to know of and about the world, I know but a tiny fraction that is, in the great scheme of things, nada. Diddily squad. Nil Pois. But somehow this is the most exciting thing about it because in spite of this, there is no doubt I know a hell of a lot more than I did before. This makes me smile.]
So, back to it. To those friends and associates who feel as though they can’t quite place me, can’t quite work out where I am at, I would only reverse this focus of attention and suggest that you divert it to yourself. Maybe that feeling of insecurity is your own spirit urging YOU to follow a path that you’ve always wanted to but never dared for fear of failure or fear of alienating yourself from the accepted projections that have been readily received by your peers and your family.
The irony is that I still don’t know quite where I fit in in this world. I don’t belong with geeks and the real heavy weight intellectuals and I don’t quite fit in with the crowd that like the status quo, that don’t like change, that take the slow road to self-development. I have chosen a lonely road to self-discovery and boy, am I learning a lot.
My most recent lesson is one that I always had in abundance but never quite understood. This is one of defiance. I am learning not to apologise to those that apparently feel threatened by me simply because I made a choice to do something that was different to what was otherwise expected. This defiance is not meant to be provocative (as my foolish, youthful defiance sometimes was) but it is a defiance of self-protection; the protecting of my dreams, my identity and my integrity. This defiance is my spirit rising up saying - yes, you are allowed to make space in your life to be the person you truly want to be!
The mere fact that I took the time to write this blog is a testament that peoples’ opinions of me still hold some weight. So before I get too ahead of myself I always remember to be humble and recognise that we are all interconnected and my choices, of course, impact on others. My point is only this - must one really hold oneself back in order that others might not feel bad? The answer to that question is a definitive, no.
We all have immense power within our lives and for some, this is scary. For if you are a victim, how can you possibly be expected to play your part? When you observe somebody who has discarded their own shackles in spite of their own personal setbacks, it forces you to address your own self-made repression. Your own sloth and self-perpetuating excuses. If this pisses you off in the first instance, this is a good sign, you’re on the road to being set free.
I cannot, and absolutely intend not to, place the whole world upon my shoulders. I alone cannot change everything. I can only play my part. The first step to that began with self-reflection and the cleaning up my own act. That step still continues. In the end, I have realised that that is all we can do. We can but play our part and in turn, help others to play theirs. To give each other encouragement and support in the pursuit of positive endeavours, even if it means the letting go of certain loved ones in order to do that and to take that journey of self-discovery. In Joseph Campbell’s book, The Heroes Journey, the hero waves goodbye to home, to the familiar and he/she accepts the call of adventure. But the completion of this is always the triumphant return home. The hero returns with important gifts, lessons and teachings. Instead of waiting for someone to be your hero, sometimes you have got to go and be your own.
Following that long and treacherous road is never easy. You never know what might be waiting for you at the end. Rewards for your bravery, faith and perseverance? Or maybe disappointment, heartbreak and defeat? But if you never take that first step, how will you ever know?
‘A boat is safe in the harbour; but that is not the purpose of a boat.’ - Unknown
Thank you for reading.