How should I handle good news?

I’ve always been awkward when good things happen to me. Growing up - humility was the name of the game, If anything good happened at school, like awards or that one time I got a scholarship, you didn’t really talk about it outside of the immediate family. Coupled with this, is my need to not be seen as better than anyone else. 

Should you share good news? Would that be bragging? Should you be responsible for how people respond to your good news? 

While it’s still hard for me to share good news or “brag” about positive things happening in my life, I think it’s necessary for us to share all the good things that are happening to us. As a child/ a teenager, it felt like I was being self-centred but now I think it’s empowering. It shows people around us that maybe if they wanted to achieve something similar, it’s possible. 

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Women are generally taught be to more modest. We shouldn’t make too much of a fuss about anything really (especially our successes), A study by Jessi Smith and Meghan Huntoon (2013) titled Women’s Bragging Rights: Overcoming Modesty Norms to Facilitate Women’s Self Promotion  looked at how this modesty ultimately affect how women perform in academic and professional settings.

Among the conclusions were that: 

  • “the current findings suggest that women experience uncomfortable arousal when promoting the self because such self-promotion violates gender norms for modesty” 

  • “American religious leader Howard Hunter once stated in his teachings that:‘‘The girl who chooses to be modest chooses to be respected. A boy who is honest with himself will admit that he likes a girl who is modest in speech, conduct, and dress. Modesty is one of the great virtues.’’ Such messages about gender and modesty are conveyed in many ways and are ingrained in American culture”

  • “With a situational intervention, however, women can misattribute the source of situational arousal and are then free to promote themselves. Indeed, bragging ought to be a ‘‘right’’ afforded to everyone”.

In the first few sentences of the abstract Smith and Huntoon (2013) stated the following: “we argue that violating this ‘‘modesty norm’’ by boasting about one’s accomplishments causes women to experience uncomfortable situational arousal that leads to lower motivation for and performance on a self-promotion task”. This rang true in their study as women who were given an external stimuli (which they were told would make them nervous and feel stressed - [a.k.a. mimic the discomfort one feels when talking about their one accomplishments]) were able to write better essays about themselves than those who were not. Additional findings noted that:

  • “under normal conditions (i.e., no misattribution [distraction/ external stimuli] available) women would report lower motivation and perform worse when promoting the self than when promoting another person”

  • “Furthermore, essays written by self-promoting women [who were not given external stimuli and adhered to modesty norms] were awarded significantly less scholarship money than essays written by other self-promoting women [who were exposed to external stimuli and violated modesty norms].

All this is basically saying that as women, we feel like we need permission to share our achievements and accomplishments, but where does this fit into a world that doesn’t really allow that permission? Smith and Huntoon make a fascinating point here, about how much this social norm to be the “modest lire girl” can ultimately affect how we assert ourselves academically and even professionally. One might rubbish these claims by saying that there are “so many women leaders” and “ so many bad-ass women” that this simply cannot be true. But, for these 5 women that we know - there are so many others trying to navigate their lives through this film of modesty… including me !

I’ve decided though that, this is the time to break out of the shell and speak up and speak out more. Behind the notion of modesty is also the ideal of being quiet or soft-spoken. Well, ladies let’s turn up the volume and let our voice be heard. Let us share our good, bad and ugly news with each other and empower ourselves to get rid of the anxiety and reservations we have about talking about all our accomplishments (whether you’ve found a cure for cancer; or you finally got out of bed today). 

SOME REALLY GOOD NEWS !

In keeping with this theme, I am sharing some good news regarding the podcast. I got an email in February 2019 and at first I thought it was spam, or some kind of scam. That’s always the first thing that comes to mind when we get unbelievable news via email, isn’t it?  But it was not a scam at all ! The Grown Up Millennial podcast was named among the top 20 millennial podcasts for 2019 by FeedSpot.

I was pretty stunned that we were featured anywhere because I literally started the podcast in January 2019. It took me 2 months to even write this post because I am still dealing with the whole idea of modesty and when does sharing good news turn in bragging. But, I really want to share my excitement with you ! Thank you for reading the blog and listening to the podcast and just being amazing overall. 

I’m still not sure where I’m going with all this, but it’s so great that you’re with me for the ride (and I promise, it’s gonna be great … when I eventually figure it out lol). 

Start bragging !