Stop Holding Back


"You never lose by loving. You always lose by holding back." ~Barbara De Angelis

A couple of months ago I had the opportunity to visit Martha's Vineyard.

If you've never been, it's this picturesque island with light-sand beaches, turquoise water, fishing boats, sailboats and bigger boats, delicious fresh caught seafood, and plenty of quaint shops. It's the type of place that can refresh, uplift and inspire you, almost immediately upon arrival.

One afternoon, I took a stroll through Edgartown, popping in and out of stores, taking in the island-themed t-shirts, trinkets and souvenirs.

That's why I was surprised when I walked into a store that had none of these things. Right near the front entrance was a table carrying a display that instantly caught my attention.

In the middle of the glass tabletop there sat an enormous Buddha. Surrounding the statue were inspirational quotes all placed in intricately carved, golden frames. Ivory candles flickered between the framed quotes, making the whole place feel more like a shrine, and less like a clothing shop.

I absolutely love when I unexpectedly stumble across moments, conversations or things that inspire me. I often take note, commit it to memory, and when I can, snap a photo. Most of the time, I end up sharing these flashes of inspiration with as many people as possible.

This table was no different. I knew I wanted to remember the display: the words, the ambiance, and the feeling of serenity it provided me. I took out my camera to take a picture, but before I could, a young woman working at the store stopped me.

"I'm sorry. We don't allow pictures to be taken inside."

The words were polite, but her tone was snappy. I felt taken aback and a little embarrassed--like I had gotten caught trying to run away with the Buddha.

I made a quick exit, but as the minutes passed, I couldn't shake the feeling that I was bothered by this.

The more I perseverated on it, something came to me.

Thinking about the display made me feel like it was a waste. Logically I can understand the store's policy, but there was a part of me that felt it was a shame. The store should be happy the display had the desired effect; it caught my eye, gave me pause and impacted me. It turned an ordinary walk into something much more meaningful.

Why not let me share that same feeling with others?

The more I thought about it, I had another realization. People do the same thing all the time.

In life, we so often hold back. We have something on our mind, but don't share for fear of sounding silly or the joke falling flat.

We want to confess or reveal a truth, but we fear being judged.

We have a gift or insight that may help someone, but we tell ourselves to keep quiet.

We hold back in an attempt to preserve ourselves, but lose so much more in the end. How many friendships, connections or opportunities are we denying ourselves because of our fears?

Though it can be difficult, we need to try and hold back less.

If you have something valuable to offer, give it with all your might.

Your story may be what inspires another. Your example may be what motivates someone. Your words, kindness, humor or joy may be what changes someone's day for the better. Your art, your writing, your personality or simply your smile can be a gift to someone else.

Whenever possible, try not to hide who you are. Try to confide, rather than conceal. Try to share, rather than keep silent.

Be bold. Let who you are be on display. And don't be afraid of who might stop to take notice.