I just read a post on feminist Mormon housewives and have to give it a spin here on my own blog. fMh Lisa, the author of the post, called my attention to the fact that women in our culture are socialized to devalue their accomplishments. In fact, while men consistently tend to overestimate their awesomeness, women consistently tend to underestimate their awesomeness. Why is this the case? Why is a healthy sense of pride desirable in men, but undesirable in women? Humility is certainly a virtue, but self-deprecation is not.
Think about it, ladies: what would you do if another woman complimented you on, say, your toned upper arms? I'd probably waggle one around to make it jiggle and say, "no way, look how flabby they are!" If I were to compliment Husband in the same way, I know exactly how he'd respond. He'd put on a gruff voice and say, "I'm a big strong man!"
I have been attempting to stop myself from devaluing compliments for several years. I try to accept all compliments with sincere thank yous and no qualifiers. But it's so darn hard! And that's to say nothing of volunteering why I am amazing on my own.
With that in mind, I am going to give it a go right here and now. I am going to tell you my secret shame: why I am proud of myself. I have a strong urge to downplay these. I have a strong urge to admit that so-and-so is better than me at this or that. I have a strong urge to give into the chronic plague that is the imposter syndrome. But I refuse to give place to those urges. So here is a lovely list of ten reasons why I am fabulous:
1. I'm smart. I’m a female scientist. At BYU. I have participated in lots of research. I have formed lasting relationships with several excellent professors who think very highly of me. I am an excellent genetics TA. I'm good at giving presentations - and actually enjoy it.
2. I’ve been accepted into a PhD program.
3. I did a summer internship in Germany and was successful there.
4. I can sing really well. I am astounded at the progress I’ve made in
sight-singing in the past five years. I’ve sung in a choir for twelve consecutive years now.
5. I have an aptitude for dancing. I have varying levels of experience with ballet, tap, jazz, contemporary, ballroom, swing, and hip hop. I’m currently learning to belly dance, and I’m good at it!
6. I've got a nice tush! Seriously, ask anyone.
7. I’ve got class, charisma, and culture (and I'm good at using alliteration!). I'm adept at writing genuine thank-you notes. I like to help people around me. I volunteer at a battered women's shelter, where I give real service to people who have great need. When I want to, I can command the attention of a room. I have a sizable knowledge of art, literature, music, politics, history, religion, and of course science.
8. For two summers, I volunteered at the Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach, California, where I was painted from head to toe (practically) on a nightly basis and posed as a tableau vivant! In other words, I pretended to be paintings and sculptures. To about 125,000 people each year. Here's one of the pieces I did (I was the one on the left).
9. I'm left-handed!
10. I dare to be an outspoken, liberal, feminist Mormon! I'm no longer afraid to say what I'm thinking in church. I'm no longer afraid of people who think or live differently than I do.
Whew! I won't tell you how long that took. Or how difficult it was to refrain from self-deprecation. Then again, are these last two sentences my way of implying that I really am humble? Curses! Oh well, I did my best, I suppose.
As some commenters at fMh have said, ultimately I hope we will all be able to believe in our own un-qualified awesomeness without having to list our accomplishments. Someday I hope to embrace my value like the fabulous woman I know from my home ward, who is always saying, "I have unusually high self-esteem for no reason in particular. I just look in the mirror every morning and think, 'I'm fantastic!'"
It's your turn, dear readers! Tell me why you are fabulous, with absolutely no qualifying statements. Okay go!