• Holly Robison

When we play small


I'm a December baby, which means that growing up I'd get some amazing birthday/Christmas combo gifts. Things that I really wanted but were too big to receive for just my birthday or just from Santa worked to my advantage by having the occasions combined.


With my birthday coming up, I was reminded of the presents of years past. Being a child of the '70s, an Easy Bake Oven and Silly Putty were at the top of my birthday wishlists, as were Sea Monkeys and a horse.


Recalling these presents of the past brought a smile to my face, and I began remembering others like a Holly Hobby ColorForm set, the Little People McDonald's set, and Shrinky Dinks. If you have no idea what that last one is, basically it was a kit where you'd trace an image on a magical sheet of plastic, color it in, then cut out that image and put it in the oven for a few minutes. Once finished, the plastic image would have shrunk down to a fraction of its original size because of the heat and could then be used as a keychain or pair of earrings, for example.


This Shrinky Dink memory got me thinking of how the shrunken plastic fish I'd drawn as a child was a pretty solid metaphor for how my spirit and voice had been diminished throughout my life until not too long ago.


I've been in relationships in the past where I've kept my mouth shut, not stood up for myself, and accepted behaviors that were otherwise unacceptable. Whether with family or an ex, I've given away pieces of my personal power to appease others.


As a child and young adult, it was implied that "good girls" don't talk back, raise their voices, or outshine their significant others. I believed that to keep the peace in the family, I needed to pick my battles.


Those beliefs caused me to shrink.


The outcome was essentially me turning into a Russian nesting doll of sorts, with my personality and self-confidence becoming smaller and smaller, depending on the circumstance.


This year has given me the opportunity to reflect on many of my personal beliefs -- the ones that were ingrained into me in my youth and the ones that I've developed on my own -- and I am increasingly aware of how my playing small does no one any good.


Throughout my career as a yoga teacher, I've been afraid to use my voice and to take up space in the world. The mere thought of teaching to large groups, to go online, and to be visible in general has kept me in the cycle of small. Until now.


Creating a new business model of a global fitness and wellness platform has me shaking in my yoga pants. To be visible at that level is pretty damn scary for me, but I'm not letting that stop me. I've done hard things in the past, and it's time to level up.


This weekend I'm filming six videos for the upcoming membership platform I'm creating. I'm nervous and excited and so far out of my comfort zone, it's crazy. But I'm going for it. I don't have to be comfortable, I just have to do the scary things. It's time for this goldfish to grow into her new and improved larger bowl. It's time for me to rise up and make a bigger difference in the world, and I can't do it while remaining a smaller version of myself.


Do you have any places in your life where you've played small? If so, are you ready to take the leap and expand into your full self? What might that look like? If we take these leaps together, it just might make the process a little easier knowing we're not alone.

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