Learning to Play Big

This post is dedicated to Kathryn Bond, one of the most awesome women I know.

A couple of months ago, I read Playing Big: A practical guide for brilliant women like you by Tara Mohr and was inspired. The book calls on women to stop limiting themselves, to stop believing  the crap society tells you about knowing your place and to chase your dreams. Women tend to “play small” in their careers and personal projects. They regard hugely successful women with awe, wishing they were like her, instead of realising that they — and you — are that woman.

There is no “success” gene or magic elixir. There is nothing fundamentally different about the women who achieve great goals; all women have such potential. The difference is, ultra-successful women have seized opportunities ities, persisted in the face of criticism and aimed high. When they have been discouraged and their confidence has failed them, they keep going. Mohr calls upon all of us to keep going and to support others in their endeavours.

Read Mohr’s 10 Rules for Brilliant Women for an introduction to how to play big.

Another woman who is no stranger to playing big, Mayim Bialik, launched a website last week: GrokNation.com. For anyone who doesn’t know, Bialik plays Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory, was the eponymous Blossom in a former life and got a PhD in Neuroscience in between. in addition, she has published books on two of her passions: veganism and holistic parenting.

I have enjoyed reading her posts on GrokNation so far — it’s refreshing to read open, honest viewpoints on a range of issues, especially from someone in the public eye. I don’t share all of Bialik’s views, but I admire her integrity and intelligence. I was also delighted to read (in a reply to a reader’s comment) that she plans to write about mental health.

My mentor, Emylia Hall, is another amazing woman. She has written her third novel, The Sea Between Us, which will be published in paperback on 27th August and is already available on Kindle. It’s a love story with a difference — the protagonist finds fulfilment in herself, through surfing, family relationships and art, becoming a whole person in her own right. Whether or not she gets the guy who seems to be her destiny is another aspect to her life, not its raison d’être. 

Emylia’s first two novels, The Book of Summers and A Heart Bent Out of Shape are also fabulous. They also tackle issues of identity as young women learn about themselves and their place in the world, which is one of my interests — probably because identity struggles are a common element of Borderline Personality Disorder. I think it’s a topic that doesn’t get discussed enough, particularly when you consider that women are in a strange position, experiencing a lot of inequality and prejudice despite not being a minority group in any society (bar a few religious enclaves).

Emylia is also an incredibly supportive mentor. I was selected as her mentee after I applied to the mentorship she was offering through the WoMentoring Project, which links aspiring female writers to mentors who are established in their fields. It’s all done on a voluntary basis, which means people of limited means (like myself) have access to mentorships. Emylia has continued to encourage and advise me, long after my initial mentorship ended, for which I am incredibly grateful.

I’m trying to play big and struggling, but reading about other women who are defining success on their own terms and striving towards their goals keeps me motivated. The women I know who do amazing things every day, like working with children with challenging conditions like autism while raising a toddler and being an awesome friend, also inspire me.