I’ve noticed that many women, myself included, struggle with the concept of pride.
We are, by and large, uncomfortable with holding up our accomplishments. This is true in personal situations, it’s certainly observable in work environments, and I even see it on sewing blogs as we downplay our achievements and point out all the flaws.
The reason usually given for this behavior is that women are consensus builders. Holding yourself up above anyone else, or even giving a hint of the appearance of doing this, is dangerous to group dynamics. It makes it much more difficult to keep harmony if you aren’t trying to fit in.
But I’ve noticed that it goes beyond this socialized instinct. We constantly see women being punished for flaunting their achievements without self-effacement. Even more sad, it’s often other women who do the tearing down.
The reasons for this are complex, but the results impact us all.
In her new book Playing Big, Tara Mohr (who kindly sent me a copy) points out that both research and anecdotal evidence show that it is very difficult for a woman to be perceived as both competent and likable. As a result, we frequently modulate our appearance to appear less competent in order to be liked more.
This is one reason I love the concept behind Ann Friedman’s Shine Theory. It says to me that women can be the agents of change simply by the way we treat each other: as friends instead of competitors.
So today, I thought I’d take a moment for all of us to pat ourselves on the back for a job well done.
My question is this: Have you ever made something that really caused you to be impressed with yourself?
I mean, not just something you were a little proud of. I’m talking about something that made you feel more capable, confident, or creative. Something that made you feel better about yourself, not just happy with what you made?
For me, it will always be my wedding dress. Not because it required such great technical skill, but because I put my heart into every aspect of it. I chose the beautiful gold 4-ply Italian silk charmeuse, I found the perfect organza trim with tiny seed pearls, I figured out how to apply it to create a carefully scalloped hem. I took my time.
Everything about it felt like me, and that made me happy. There were no compromises and a lot of creativity.
I don’t know if it’s the dress I would make today (though it might be), but I know how I felt in it.
What have you created that made you proud of yourself?