Does Celebrating Yourself Make You a Jerk?
Whenever I talk to women about their talent, capabilities or success, they almost always downplay themselves. Somewhere around 90% of the time this happens. There are two main responses: 1) They genuinely don’t internalize their success (i.e. they have Imposter Syndrome), or 2) They actually understand that they just pulled off something great, but don’t want to sound like a “jerk”. As much as Imposter Syndrome is my passion and specialty, I want to address the “feeling like a jerk” reaction.
I believe that feeling like a jerk comes from observing other women who celebrate themselves be treated like a jerk. The empowering movement of having women be bold, take action and step forward consistently bumps up against the reality that they will be brought down with words, looks or actions if they do. They are treated as arrogant, rude and yes, like a jerk. This is not just men reacting this way, I have watched women react chillingly to another’s success. Contrast this sharply with a man celebrating a well-deserved success. My observations have been that the people around him are happy to celebrate with him. Like it is somehow more normal and acceptable for him to acknowledge his contribution to the world. This standard of normal is very dis-empowering for women on their journey to authentic success.
Without getting in to a whole sociological debate on this, I simply want to encourage women to own their success and tell them that genuinely celebrating what you can, and have done, is never a jerk move. It is powerful and necessary to build momentum, and move to your next level of success. So please don’t allow your light to dim in the face of other’s potential reactions. Celebrate the hell out of what you have done because you deserve it, and the rest of us need to see it! Young professional women need to see you shining bright. Our daughters need to see us stepping forward and owning our success with the same vigour as we own our responsibilities. Our sons need to learn that this is the appropriate response to success for both men and women.
Let yourself be happy and proud for as long as you can hold that feeling. It is preparing you to be able to hold that level of joy and excitement the next time. This is a practice that will serve you on so many levels. Power, joy, confidence, happiness, success – and all you have to do is celebrate!
A note for the men … this is not an attack on you. It’s simple social conditioning that you can help change so that your wives, daughters, sisters and friends can own their very well deserved successes too. If you find yourself not owning your success authentically, please know that I am speaking to you too.
The next time you receive a compliment … simply look the person in the eye and say “thank you”. That’s it. No justifications, no excuses, no fidgeting or trying to remove yourself. Plant your feet and respect the compliment, yourself, and the person giving it to you with a simple, powerful and perfect “thank you”.
Celebrate the hell out of yourself!