I’m officially two whole weeks (two whole weeks!) into my new job. Even though I’m still brand-spanking new and learning as I go, there’s such a sense of empowerment to starting your first 9-to-5. Don’t get me wrong: I struggle to don business-casual garb every morning, I miss naps, and I don’t enjoy packing a lunch. But challenging myself professionally and intellectually leaves me feeling full of potential.
While I feel empowered, I find it difficult to be a “girl boss” and own that empowerment. I tend to be self-deprecating in my accomplishments—even those I take particular pride in.
I worked my way up over four years to Editor-in-Chief of a newspaper. I outpaced those who were more experienced, because I showed skill. I overcame my anxiety and pushed myself to grow as a writer, editor, and person. I’m genuinely proud of myself for all of that work. When I tell people about that experience though, I always qualify with a supposedly diminishing “but it was a school newspaper, not a newspaper-newspaper.” If anyone’s watched Gilmore Girls, they know school newspapers are replete with their own obstacles and challenges.
I’ve been lucky enough to get scholarships over the years, but I downplay the work behind them. I graduated with an Associate of Arts in Philosophy, but I affix an asterisk that it’s “just” a diploma, or joke that I’m still unemployable.
The gender studies major in me wants to analyze the relationship between modesty and being a woman. Of course everyone contends with being self-conscious; but there do seem to be gendered expectations in humility. Women aren’t often encouraged to celebrate their professional accomplishments. Even when women own their badass gorgeous selves and accept a compliment, they risk immediately being torn down.
My Chandler Bing-like propensity for self-deprecation may also be a symptom of shyness. Yet, while the cause is of course important, I just want to push myself to own my accomplishments—plain and simple. It’s not bragging to acknowledge when you’ve worked goddamn hard for something. You can be confident while still possessing humility. Accepting a compliment doesn’t mean you need to be taken down a peg or two.
In two-ish years when I finally graduate from university, I will be so full of pride. That gives me plenty of time to be a girl boss and work on my I-kick-ass-itude.