by Abigail Green, from Abby off the Record
A quote that has always resonated with me is one by Marianne Williamson that begins:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. [It] is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?”
I don’t know about you, but most women I know do not go around proclaiming themselves brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous. Guys, on the other hand? Well, let’s just say I’ve noticed that the males in my life have no problem asserting their awesomeness. My 4-year-old son regularly tells me, “I’m the fastest runner in the whole world.” And an essay my husband wrote in grade school stating that he is “the smartest and best-looking person in my family” is a source of great amusement (and some embarrassment) to this day.
But if you ask what’s so great about me, a freelance writer and stay-at-home mom, I will struggle to find an answer. Don’t get me wrong: I love what I do, and I am proud of my accomplishments. I know I’m a good writer and a hard worker. It’s just that when it comes to telling OTHER people how great I am, I falter.
When I was developing my new blog, AbbyOfftheRecord.com -- to replace the anonymous blog, DiaryofaNewMom.net, I started years ago -- I had many discussions with Angie Mizzell, a kindred spirit I met online through our writing. She insisted I needed to “own” my name, my bio, my credentials. After all, I was hoping the new blog would generate writing assignments, students for my online writing class, and help build my publishing platform. Still, I hemmed and hawed.
I don’t know if it’s a Woody Allen, “I don’t want to be a member of any club that would have me,” kind of thing, or what the Australians call “tall poppy syndrome,” which refers to a successful person who is cut down because their achievements set them above their peers. All I know is that announcing my accomplishments to the world makes me uncomfortable. Years ago, the director of a graduate program to which I was applying called over another professor during my interview. “She’s a Phi Beta Kappa grad from Vassar!” he crowed. Instead of feeling proud, I felt like a prize poodle in the Westminster Dog Show.
Part of the issue is that I really don’t think I’m that great. Like a dieter who tells herself she’ll buy a new dress/update her Facebook picture/be worthy as soon as she’s lost those last 10 pounds, I am always telling myself “I’ll feel successful/update my Facebook profile/embrace my awesomeness as soon as I have a new article published/a bigger paycheck/a New York Times bestseller.” Now you know why I change my Facebook status so rarely.
Another undeniable fact is that publicly proclaiming your accomplishments invites criticism. And not just on the internet; in real life, too. I remember one time I was at a party when a friend came up to me all excited because she’d seen my byline in Bride’s magazine. I was so proud. It was one of my first national magazine credits. A guy standing nearby turned to me and sneered, “So what do you REALLY want to do?” As if writing for bridal magazines was akin to a wannabe actress waiting tables.
But you know what? Even though I may not think I’m brilliant and gorgeous, I can maybe -- just a little -- embrace the fabulous and talented part. I mean, I get paid to write for magazines and businesses, from home, while spending most of my time with my two boys. I teach writers how to get published, sometimes for the first time, and they do – in places like Southern Living and the New York Times, even! That’s pretty fabulous, right?
The rest of the Williamson quote goes like this:
“Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do … And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”
So I’m going to work on letting my light shine, starting with my new blog. I spent a lot of time on the About Me page. There’s a photo and everything.
What about you? Do you play small? Or do you embrace your awesomeness?