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  • Writer's pictureNozibele Qamngana

Why are we so comfortable in playing small?

Almost a year ago, we lost one of our cars.

My husband woke up very early to go and cycle. I was still fast asleep when I heard him call after me. At first, I was confused of what was going on. I thought there was a burglary in the house. I rushed downstairs to go and check what was happening. He told me that our car was stolen. It was a sad situation because we had already paid off that car. Our intention was to save that money towards something else. I immediately called the tracker. They could not assist. Despite paying my monthly premiums for 7 years, they claimed my tracker had not been active for several months.

Thankfully, the insurance came through. Without any hassles, they paid us according to the value of the car. From the start, the intention was to buy a relatively small car, something economically efficient and affordable. Obviously, it had been a while since we last bought a car and we were shocked at how expensive cars are. Don’t let those small cars fool you, those things are expensive.

As were about to give up, we went to another dealer. We were still looking for a “small car”, when we came across and not so small car. The first thing that came to our mind was, “We cannot afford this car”. But for interest sake, we asked the sales consultant to check numbers and come back with a proposal for us. We did a few calculations and saw that we could afford it. And so, we took the deal.

Problem started to arise when we now needed to use the car. Skhu and I would argue about who was going to use it. I was adamant that I would use the old second car we had. We were fighting because he wanted to use that car and insisted that I used the “new car”. None of us wanted to drive the “new car”. As much as we were excited about the purchase, we were both afraid. We were afraid that people would look at us differently because of the car. I remember saying to Skhu, “I don’t want people to think we have money because of this car”.

I remember the first time I took the car to work. I remember when my colleagues saw it. Everyone was so excited that I had a new car. The first thing that came to my mouth was, “Oh no! It’s not a new car. We bought it from a dealer, it was a demo”.

Looking back at that moment, I am so disappointed at myself. I’m so disappointed that I had to reduce myself to that. Why are we so comfortable in playing small? Particularly because we want to make others feel comfortable. Why do we do this?

I wanted to share 3 things that I continue to learn, with the hope that it would help you as well…

1) You deserve the best of what life has to offer

I understand that our experiences, past and, to some extent, our current circumstances have taught us to be “realistic”. We reason our thinking by looking at all the times things have gone wrong, that it’s hard to even imagine what could go right.

The other day, a friend of mine shared a special deal that the CNA shops were running. She knows I love books. Everything was on half price. I promised her that I would go and check out the deals. This one CAN shop was at a neighborhood I’ve never been before. I noticed as I was driving into the neighborhood that this was not the typical area I was used to. I was honestly cursing Noni out for “forcing me” to drive there. Tall trees. Driveways that had no end. Double story houses with glass front doors. I felt my heart racing as I continued driving. All the time I’m thinking, “I shouldn’t be here. I shouldn’t here. This is not my area. This is not my place. I shouldn’t be there”.

There are two kinds of people when faced with this situation. There are those that get motivated by such. There are people I know that spend hours on property24 looking at houses with only R500 on their bank accounts. This is the kind of thing that motivates them to work harder because they see themselves owning those houses one day. I have a friend that used to drive around some of the fanciest neighborhoods in Port Elizabeth looking at houses. She said it was therapeutic for her.

And then there’s me. I find those exercises very stressful. A few weeks ago, we went to visit a friend. We have been to her a place before. But on this day, she gave us a different address. We didn’t think anything of it. We followed the directions. It was at a point when we were in front of a securing gate that we realized that something was up. I have never ever seen houses like that. We stopped in front of her house, which was equally as beautiful by the way, and I cursed her out.

“Fool, you know my ratchet ass doesn’t belong in these neighborhoods. Why didn’t you prepare me?”

We had a good laugh about it.

Here’s an interesting thing. Right after we had lunch, she asked that we go for a walk to look at another house that was for sale around the corner. I plainly refused. I told her I don’t want to stress myself out with a beautiful house I cannot afford.

Why? Why can’t it be, “Oh! Let me how my future home is going to look like?”

Why couldn’t I envision myself in that house?

I deserve the best of what life has to offer.

2) Stop expecting the worst

There’s an odd thing we often do on social media. There are people, like me, who love loudly. Whether in a marriage or relationship, they publicly show their affection towards their partner. The other day, I was reading a beautiful caption by a gentleman that was appreciating his wife. I was smiling the entire time I was reading that message. Decided to go through the comments. It made me so happy when others were also inspired to appreciate their spouses. Of course, there must be rotten potatoes in every bag. Someone commented, “it’ll end in tears”.

I sat there and thought, is our society so rotten and broken that we can’t even celebrate moments of purest love? And its these insecurities and fears that get to our heads and make us think, “Oh, let me not show him too much emotion just in case this doesn’t last”. You’re constantly in your fears about what could happen, that the joy of this moment passes you.

Even when things haven’t gone my way, I always feel proud that I gave it my all. I have no regrets whatsoever. There’s nothing as tragic than when you realize, “Oh! Maybe I could have done this better”. I don’t want to live my present in the past.

3) Do not be apologetic about your blessings

There’s a trend that I often observe. Sometimes, when there’s a shift in the growth of someone, we tend to label that person as arrogant and unrelatable. And because people don’t want to be labelled as such, they shrink themselves.

There are two verses I love:

- Revelation 12:11: And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony

- Psalm 66:16: Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me

I love it in Xhosa: “Yizani, nive, ndinixelele, nonke nina bamoyikayo uThixo, Oko akwenzele umphefumlo wam”

It doesn’t matter how small or insignificant it may look to others; you have no idea how your testimony may help others. Don’t be apologetic. Don’t be ashamed. “With South Africa’s unemployment rate at 32.6%, who am I to be celebrate a promotion when others don’t even have a job”. Ey wena! Its people like YOU that continue to remind us, “Jehovah, I saw how you blessed Siphokazi. May you also remember me. May you also have the same grace”.

As the famous speech by Marianne Williamson:

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other

people won't feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of

God that is within us.

Go out there and LIVE your best life!

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