This past winter I was asked, as I dressed in the lodge preparing to chaperone at ski club, if I was a good skier. I responded that I was “okay, but a little rusty.”
After a couple of runs, my new friend looked at me incredulously and said. . . “is that what you call rusty?”
He said it because I’m not just okay. Having spent many, many, many weekends as a teenager on the trails of Stowe, Vermont, I’m a very good skier. And yes, while I was rusty and still figuring out new equipment (I will never stop missing my 205s), I was also hitting slopes that were by no means challenging.
So why did I answer the way I did, instead of telling him the “truth?” Because that was how I was raised (and by raised, I mean not just by my family, but also by my community, and society at large) – we don’t say, we do. And then even when we get complimented, we diminish in some way (of course I did great on a family-friendly mountain designed for beginner to intermediate skiers).
It should be noted, when I asked him if he was any good, his immediate response was – “Yes. I’m very good.”
Back in August I started to write a post inspired by the United State’s women’s national soccer team winning the World Cup. . . . and the people they pissed off along the way, because they were “too much.”
They were too cocky. Too confident. Too focused (on themselves). They celebrated too loudly. They apologized too little. The women, it was implied (when not said outright), needed to be more grateful. More demure. More sensitive to the feelings of others.
It was a response that felt all too familiar.
As our daughter has grown, and flourished, I started to see her following down my same path. Afraid to talk about how she was doing in school, or sports, or life, because it might hurt someone’s feelings. Dimming her light even before she had really started to shine.
To her, I made one thing very clear. We do not let others steal our sparkle.
Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? Until it’s my turn.
I was recently asked to write a biography for myself highlighting my accomplishments, both professionally and athletically, and found myself balking. I know what I’ve done, but to put it on paper felt . . . braggy and obnoxious.
Writing to a friend he texted back “Bike shop owner, team manager, social media guru, marketing wizard, mentor of young women… Boom!”
Even that, which filled me with pride, made me slightly uncomfortable.
But if I’d want our daughter to take those words and embrace them, then I need to do the same. And own my awesome.
One thought on “Owning Our Awesome”
Several thoughts here:
– Most of the objections to the USWNT behavior followed their 13-0 thumping of Thailand. I agree with Megan Rapinoe, who in essence said that (a) taking their foot off the throttle would have been an insult to Thailand and (b) maybe Thailand should learn to play better soccer if they want to compete at the highest level. It’s not clear if you’re saying that the behavior wouldn’t have been the same had it been the men’s team (no risk of them thumping anyone 13-0) … I think the men would have behaved the same way and would have been criticized the same way.
– “Bike shop owner, team manager, social media guru, marketing wizard, mentor of young women… Boom!” Interesting that only two of those terms have a quality judgement to them (guru and wizard).
– In a personal setting, when I’m asked about my ability in advance of someone seeing it, I’ll say something like “I know what I’m doing.” Not expert (even when I am). There’s almost never value in in over-claiming, or even high-claiming. (At work, I’ll say I’m an expert even when I’m not … because that’s what gets rewarded.)
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