Recently it was #InternationalWomensDay and my feed was FULL with posts of women that people found inspirational. It was awesome. I saw familiar faces, I learned about women I’d never heard of before, I saw beautiful art, I read empowering and heartening stories and posts. I felt truly proud to be a woman because of the other wonderful women I was seeing and learning about.
But there was something I didn’t see this weekend. I didn’t see women celebrating themselves. I saw women praising each other and recalling the many MANY achievements and capabilities of women, but hardly any mention of their own accomplishments and abilities. And this baffled me.
Why, as a whole, but especially women, are we not allowed to celebrate ourselves? Why is it seen as arrogant to say “Actually, I’m pretty damn brilliant”? Because, we are. Each and every one of us. And we shouldn’t have to wait for someone else to tell us so. We should know it ourselves, and we should feel able to claim our brilliance.
A good example of this is a conversation I had with a friend today (who I won’t mention by name but if you’re reading this I love you lots and this is just an example not me criticising you okay cool love you bye). She recently received a very high grade for a test she was quite nervous for, and when I congratulated her, her reaction was to immediately say ‘I was just lucky’. She lessened her achievement. It was like something was stopping her, something wasn’t allowing her to celebrate herself. And because of this train of thought I’d been considering since Sunday I responded to this dismissal with something along the lines of “NO YOU’RE SMART AND BRILLIANT AND CELEBRATE THIS” and we then spent the next few minutes reaffirming her intelligence and her achievement. She felt the confidence and the space to say “yeah! I’m smart”.
There are so many instances where women are made to feel ashamed for pride in themselves, or to be made to feel guilty for achievements, or made to lessen themselves so as not to gain too much attention (or the wrong sort of attention). And often when women actually try to confidently speak of their abilities, achievements or passions, *some* men will belittle, question or shame this confident declaration. And that needs to stop. What also needs to stop is women dragging down other women, or seeing women as competitors that they need to beat, apposed to supporting, raising and praising each other.
This lessening of ones-self isn’t something that’s unique to one society or country. I’m fortunate enough to have female friends from all over the world, and every single one of them has, at some point, lessened their brilliance because they felt they couldn’t embrace it. I want to send one message through this post today. CELEBRATE YOUR BRILLIANCE! Wholly, fully and without shame. If you’ve done something your proud of, say so. If you’ve achieved something and it makes you happy, be excited and share your excitement. If you have no other outlet to do so, leave a comment on this post, or send me an email, or leave a comment on one of my social media posts and you can bet your ass I’ll celebrate with you. Who would actively turn down a reason to celebrate? A crazy person that’s who!
If you have a friend, a loved one or a colleague who isn’t allowing herself to celebrate herself, encourage her to do so. Don’t make it another source of shame or guilt, but instead take the first step by celebrating her and then say “you can join in too. It’s okay to celebrate yourself.”