The thing that chaps my hide the most about being a woman is the social and cultural expectation of self-deprecation. It's as if the more we loathe ourselves or downplay our strengths or brush aside compliments, the more normal we are. It is so pervasive that I barely even stop to think about it much. Except when my dear husband reminds me, usually by relaying something he said that leaves me slack-jawed when I consider how people would respond if I were the one saying it.
Take yesterday, for example. We've all been sick, and Bob walked into his office spry and healthy, even though just a day before he was hacking up a lung. One of the secretaries mentioned how surprised she was to see him rebound so quickly and without breaking stride Bob just smiled and said, "Excellent genes, people. Excellent genes."
He wasn't kidding. He's a great guy, really, but he is also quite aware of it. He would never think otherwise. He can't stand the way I take compliments, and I have tried to explain to him that this is just how women are.
I don't know the last time I ever accepted a compliment with a simple thank you. I really don't. Typically I berate the complimenter for not seeing my elaborate system of smoke and mirrors, or point out how inadequate I am when compared to so and so. It's nauseating.
In the Air Force, officers are expected to write their own OPRs for their commander to sign off on. An OPR is a progress report that evaluates how you are doing and whether you should be considered for promotion.
My BFF's (Sarah of playground mafia fame) husband is in the process of writing his right now. Bob had to write many for himself. Trust me when I say these OPRs are so glowing they're practically floating about the room on a cloud of pixie dust. It is so easy for these men to highlight their strengths and brag away, practically canonizing themselves, and it is all completely accepted.
I joked that if Sarah had to write hers she'd never get promoted. She would only point out all the areas she knew she could have done a little better in. She would have even recommended someone else for promotion instead, and offered to wait it out a year so that she could really work to her full potential. Likely, she would have even recommended demotion, with a reinstatement to current rank only after she met all of her goals and got back into a size four. Lots of us are this way. I joke, but only a little bit.
Anyone else tired of this?
I've written about this before, as has Bob, and I just wish there could be a sea change right now where we could hold our heads high with confidence and know how wonderful we are without fear that whispers of showoff or full of herself followed. I feel an enormous sense of pride in all the roles I carry out, but in order to share how I feel it's more, "We are all wonderful and do an amazing job juggling the many loads we carry in life as women." I don't want to only be able to accept compliments when hidden behind the solidarity of such collective statements. Yes, we rock as women. We're amazing and we do so much, blah blah blah. That is all true. But the atmosphere certainly changes when we hear a woman say "I rock. I am good at what I do."
Join me, don't join me, whatever. As for me, I am not letting another year of life slip by with me denigrating my strengths and gifts. I wouldn't let my kids get away with that.
I rock. How about you?