This evening I attended an alumni party thrown by Essence magazine. I'm not an Essence alumna, but I write for them about once a year and thought that some current employees and writers would be there. As it turns out, hardly anyone I knew attended. Even though I'm normally an outgoing person, on this night my introvert self showed up. I felt self conscious for some reason and somewhat out of place and stayed more to myself than normal.
If there's one thing I should know by now, it's that staying small when I'm feeling small is always a mistake. While I met some new people and connected with some folks I'd only known over email, I'm confident that I missed out on an opportunity to connect with others. Later, I learned that the party was full of people who had been laid off and/or were otherwise feeling insecure about themselves, the economy and their jobs. Had I overcome my sudden shyness, introduced myself anyways and dug deep to find my big self, I would have been able to support people who are struggling, share tips from the freelance front and meet interesting people who I would certainly benefit from knowing. Instead, I'll have to wait another year to try again. Until then, I will remind myself of one of my favorite quotes:
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, "A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles"