The other day, I was talking with a few friends of mine. I mentioned that I wasn’t too sure where I was going in life. One friend quickly chimed in: I don’t even know what my next job will be – at least you have stability! The other laughed before adding: Yeah, work has been really stressful lately, I’m not sure how well I’m handling it.
It wasn’t until later, when I was home alone, that I realized none of us really said anything positive in our exchange. That got me thinking.
Why are we so quick to brag about our failure but not our success?
My friend who didn’t know what her next job would be? She just finished college with an amazing degree! All she needed was time. My other friend who wasn’t sure how she was handling a stressful job? I know for a fact she’s the first one in the office every day, working hard to get ahead.
It would have been so easy for them to say that. But the risk of sounding “braggy” was there, and they both were scared of falling prey to it. When someone says something negative or unsure about their life, women feel like they can only contribute with similar or worse perspectives.
This concept of jumping to brag about our failure extends so much further than these types of exchanges though. We’re afraid to brag about our success. Women are trained to not brag about themselves – instead, we tend to add negative comments to anything we may deem a success.
A women trying to describe her success often sounds like this: “My boss loved the report I put together! The writing wasn’t succinct but the numbers were perfect.”
If your boss loved it, why should the length of the writing matter? We as women are consistently adding unnecessary, and commonly untrue, facts to the stories of our success. We add a trail of “buts” and things we never needed to offer to bring us down a few notches.
Our successes and our failures are often self-made. Yet, we take full credit for our failures and share credit for our successes.
This is because there is backlash for women who brag positively about themselves. It’s normal for men to do the same thing, accepted even, yet women are looked down upon for looking up to themselves.
It’s easier in today’s society for women to talk about their failure than their success, and it’s time for us to challenge this standard. We have to accept that people are okay hearing each other talk about their success – in fact, others like it. It’s time to foster a culture of support and not of judgment.
Sometimes bragging about our success is equated with arrogance, but there is a way to discuss the subject while staying humble. Don’t resort to telling that old story about the time you failed. You have a lot more stories of success and even more to come.
It’s time to start bragging about them.