“Our biggest fear is not the we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure, It is our light not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and famous?” actually who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.” – Maryanne Williamson
When I came across this quote in early 2000, I was sure I would not see the end of the year. The year that marked the beginning of the new millennium. I was very ill at the time having just been diagnosed with end stage kidney failure following my kidney transplant two years before.
The lead up to 2000 had not been a bed of roses. I had spent the past four years battling with obscure symptoms until a diagnosis of Systemic Lupus Eurythmatoses was made in early 1997. I was diagnosed with end stage kidney failure in October of the same year. I went into surgery through the help of family who stepped up as potential kidney donors with my father being the eventual donor. Friends and strangers alike then joined the cause to help raise the money needed for the surgery. The period between 1998 and early 2000 was mostly spent in hospital accompanied by constant supervision. I developed various complications ranging from adverse drug interactions and reactions, hypertension and serious bouts of infection that left me knocked out for weeks. Those were difficult times for a 20-something-year-old. I did not think I would live to see 30.
Something happens to you when you think the end is near. Even as your body shuts down, the mind always reaches out for something. The quote by Maryanne Williamson is one of the lights I found in that dark space, a light that for a brief moment made me see my life beyond 30, gave me hope that there was more for me out there than darkness and fear. There were many more little lights in that period but I would like to focus on why 12 years on, this is the one that I choose to share in my first blog.
I truly believe that fear is the only thing that stops you from being everything you can be. You ask yourself “who am I to be gorgeous, talented, beautiful, smart, encouraging, (you can fill in your own adjectives here)” but in Maryanne’s words – who are you NOT TO BE?! Now, if you’re like me you need to go through the same thing over and over to get the lesson. 12 years on, I still struggle with this. When asked to give a talk a the TED International Talent Search, first thing I asked was “Who am I to assume my life story matters to anyone? Who really cares? Will it help anyone?” I still struggle with playing small, with putting myself out there, with being honest and vulnerable about my experience. It is the same reason that I would rather tell my story to a journalist to re write and have never written a blog. The thing about fear though, is that it starts in your mind. You generate it, you feed it, your provide an environment for it to flourish. I think it’s time fear took a back seat in my life. I think its time to take a plunge and put myself out in uncomfortable situations. In May 2012 as I took to stage at the TED Talent Search, I started on my journey to stop playing small.
Today I take another leap. I jump into the unknown world of the “ interwebs” with very little courage. I take my watering jug of friends, my fertilizer of family and the abundant sunshine of love and embark on this journey to grow “courage” and to share stories, ideas, thoughts even mistakes that I know in the hope that this journey will help me grow and in the process inspire someone else. So hello fear, meet the new Lorna Irungu – Macharia 2.0 Reloaded. She does not mess around; she is taking on the world!
Please share your thoughts/comments on this presentation at the TED site here.