Proverb – American

“Do not make yourself so big, you are not so small.”

‘It’s about modesty and being humble.

‘I learned this from my mother. Basically she just told it to me as trying to remind me to be more modest, especially in sports because I was really good at sports when I was younger. She would like say that to me if I was getting too full of myself; as a way to keep myself in check. It’s not really a Jewish saying but it relates because Jews really value modesty. It considered a really valuable trait in Judaism to be more modest.’

The informant is a 19-year-old Caucasian student in the Los Angeles area, originally from Northern California. She follows the Jewish faith. She also comes from a very large family with 9 other siblings.

This proverb serves as a metaphor for a warning to monitor one’s ego. I agree with the subject on its meaning. Like many proverbs, the fixed phrase actually contradicts itself unless the metaphorical implications are considered. In this context, the term big refers to inflating one’s ego and small refers to the negative connotation of being full of oneself. It shows that without modesty one can become a less morally upright person (in this case, considering big as a positive connotation–as in the phrase “to be the bigger person”).