Playing It Big


“Our playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.” -Marianne Williamson

Raise your hand if you’ve ever said something like this: “Well, it’s not as big of a deal as it sounds,” or “Anyone could do it; it’s nothing special.” In the interest of modesty and politeness, there can be an impulse to downplay your job title or level of responsibilities. The reality is often much different than how we portray it. No, not just anyone is committed to working late nights or deftly handling complex data like you.

It can be especially tempting to tone down your strengths when you are around those who are insecure or easily intimidated. Many a professional woman has struggled to contend with a colleague or acquaintance’s inferiority complex. A passive-aggressive aside at a networking event or a brash remark in a meeting can give even the most confident of us pause.

More than once, well-meaning strangers have peered into my office and asked if I am an intern or how I ended up in such a nice office suite, as if it were surprising for someone young and female to serve in an influential position.

Here’s the thing: when you are in a situation where there is pressure to tone down your capabilities, don’t do it. You’re not helping anyone by dimming your light. Take ownership of your worth, and don’t shrink from the ugly glare of envy.

Furthermore, when you encounter an accomplished person who has an impressive career, don’t eye her with resentment; take notes. Ask questions. Learn from her hard-earned lessons.

Most importantly, don’t play it small. By sharing your dedication with others, you will inspire them to carry out achievements as amazing as your own.


Elizabeth Roach is a graduate of Furman University and the Columbia University Publishing Program. She has worked in Kentucky government and politics for more than seven years and is currently Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear’s scheduling director. Based in Lexington, Kentucky, Elizabeth is a frequent traveler who writes freelance articles about bourbon, baking, and her culinary adventures.

1 Comment

  • Tanzi says:

    When I read this I also think about imposter syndrome, where we often feel like we really DON’T belong where we are, and we’re just hoping no one catches on. It’s good reminder that we not only have to believe in ourselves, we have to show others that we believe in ourselves. Thanks for a great post.

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