Late at night in a small cafe on campus , I had set up shop at a table with my friend, both of our eyes glued to our computer screens. It was going to be one of those nights.
“Whatcha working on tonight ?” She asked.
I had recently been hired for a virtual internship that required me to contribute content each week.
“Not much, just some homework and some small work for my fake internship.” I automatically mumbled.
Flash forward a year; I’m in a similar position again.
I’m working remotely for a website, completing a couple of projects. My friend asks me to hangout.
“Yeah for sure. I just have to finish up some stuff for this fake job type thing I have.”
He gave me a blank stare and questioned what that even meant.
I thought for a second…
It was then and there that it finally dawned on me. These unnecessary labelings of my own projects as “fake” and my self-proclaimed “nothingness” of the experiences in my life were not healthy nor did they make any sense at all.
I had been so worried about coming across as arrogant, boastful or overzealous in describing my own life experiences that I belittled them in an attempt to depart from “self-absorbed” perceptions.
I started to take note; not only of the language that I used while discussing my own experiences but of the language used everyday by the women surrounding me.
I was astonished. Never before had I noticed such brilliantly accomplished women minimizing their successes and hiding their achievements as if it were the plague.
This wasn’t modesty, this was a downright robbery of self-esteem.
It was happening everywhere. I saw it in my roommate who quietly hid her award for having one of the highest GPAs in our graduating class.
I noticed it in my coworker who sheepishly mentioned her early job offer at one of the top-leading financial companies as if it was something embarrassing.
I even noticed it in my own mother who hardly ever gave a whisper regarding her extremely demanding climb as a social worker through various promotions over the years.
Why were all of us ladies so hesitant to shout a little bit about what we’ve done?
This phenomenon has been explored closely by various researchers across the nation including those at Montana State University; where they have observed that women often are quick to downplay their own achievements because our culture places a big emphasis on modesty for women and our norms discourage women from making remarks that may be seen as conceited.
By being “humble” about our successes, big or small, we are definitely not doing ourselves any favors. Whether this apprehension stems from the fear of being too seen as too proud; or having misplaced confidence, it’s time we let go of these beliefs.
Start by celebrating rather than stigmatizing the talent of women everywhere. Rather than feeling envious or bitter towards the women around us, let’s embrace their challenges and successes as one.
As for your own endeavors; don’t be afraid to share ‘em!
Holding back that sense of accomplishment isn’t being polite or fair to anyone but rather it’s just completely discrediting yourself and everything you have worked for. It is only hurting self-esteem.
Be confident, be proud.
Every position, project or experience takes blood, sweat and tears. Don’t sell yourself short, celebrate your success.
Brag a little. Dance around with joy. Celebrate. Brag. You deserve it.
Let’s make this a victory for women.
Featured Image via @hannahwacamera