Monday, January 13, 2014

10 Things I Like About Myself

Fun news! This post is now a linkup. Write your own post, and link it up HERE.



Last night, I used my husband's phone to live-tweet the Golden Globes while over at a friend's apartment. My phone had died, and it was a travesty because until he showed up, I didn't get to provide any Twitter commentary about that amazing opening monologue. Amy & Tina calling out Julia Louis-Dreyfus for sitting in the film section while she smoked an e-cigarette ("Hellooo...you know us from TV!") -- so many giggles.

via

While using his phone, I drifted over to some photos that we'd taken in Park Slope together throughout the day. When I found one I was particularly excited about, I exclaimed to the room, "Oh hey! This is a great picture of me!" And it was. I mean, look at it.


My friend who was sitting next to me on the couch laughed aloud, as though surprised, saying, "I love how you give yourself compliments!" 

Now, I believe she meant this genuinely, and for that, I think it was a pretty sweet comment, but it got me thinking -- this is not the first time someone has made note of my own verbal affirmations. This is a "compliment" I've gotten a few times over the course of the past couple of years, and I put "compliment" in those sassy quotations because while I certainly take it as one, I'm sure that there are some who may find this practice a little off-putting. I mean, who is this girl saying nice things about herself?!

This is just not something we are taught, and by we, I mean everyone, but more specifically, I mean women. It's a side effect of systems that encourage women to err on the side of humility rather than power. In this double standard, a woman's confidence is considered bragging, and bragging is just not beautiful. This is the lie I see at work in my friends, mentors, and of course, myself.

And I see it especially in the way we receive compliments from others. Without making sweeping generalizations about all women, many of us have developed this incredible capacity to completely negate any praise that comes our way.

Hey, you look great today.
Seriously, are you looking at these circles under my eyes? I'm a mess.

Hey, great job on that speech you gave.
Oh my GOD! I totally screwed up that one part.

You are smart.
No way. YOU are! 

We respond like this as a way to avoid looking full of ourselves, but these responses are far more dangerous than just that. This practice is one of publicly declaring self-doubt, and it makes us look lesser, and it seeps into our own view of ourselves, making us feel lesser.

It's the reason why a while back, I made a conscious decision to just stop this whole negative cycle in my life. I intentionally quit saying terrible things about myself when friends tried to give me compliments, quit waiting for compliments altogether, and instead I preempted them with my own. I began to think, and even say, kind things about myself. After battling crippling insecurities, I decided I'd rather be totally full of myself than empty.

There is a distinction in all of this that I feel needs to be addressed, and that is this: to love yourself and to know why you are great is not the same as lacking humility. I want to speak directly now to those of those of us whose belief-systems strongly emphasize the imperfections and shortcomings of humanity -- Guys, it doesn't take a genius to look around and see that people are not perfect, and more specifically, that you are not perfect. It is evident every day. But if you believe that you were created and endowed with certain gifts and abilities despite those shortcomings, why oh why would you degrade them? Why would you make your gifts seem like less? How is that humility?

The short answer is it's not. To love yourself, to treat yourself and others with high regard, to know your strengths and to use them for the good of others -- this is humility. I really think that.

To give you an example of someone who just gets it -- When author Flannery O'Connor was asked why she became a writer, she replied simply, "Because I'm good at it."

Quick question: How does O'Connor's answer sit with you? Do you find her conceited, selfish, or rude? Do you think she needs to get off her high horse and put an end to her ceaseless bragging?

Maybe you do, but if so, think about this: What if instead, she had replied by saying, "Oh, it's seriously no big deal. My stuff is super derivative anyway. Plus, ohmygod, my hair is a mess"?

Flannery O'Connor - a woman whose Twitter feed would have been magnificent. (via)

The truth is, Flannery O'Connor was a superb writer -- one of the most prolific of the twentieth century. To deny her ability would be like denying that the earth is round or that pizza is delicious. It would be a straight up lie. 

And frankly, I think we spread the same kind of lies about ourselves when we don't act like our friend Flannery here. This is a woman who owned her gift of writing, who didn't act like it was less than it really was. We are all uniquely gifted, beautiful, and strong. To not let these truths be powerful in our lives is a damn shame, and it is more damaging than we even realize.

So how do we break this cycle? Well, 1) We have to stop -- stop talking about ourselves like we're idiots, stop making our achievements seem like they're no big deal, 2) we have to believe wonderful, true things about ourselves, and 3) we have to cease judgement of others who are trying to do the same thing. No more referring to a woman's confidence as a woman's boastfulness.

So I'd like to start that pattern here and now. Here is a list of ten things I really like about myself. If you are someone who frequently puts themselves down for the sake of humility, this list might make you cringe, but fight that instinct because I honestly suggest you make one of your own.

10 Things I Really Like About Myself

1. I have a strong ability to communicate my thoughts through writing.
2. I am a good listener.
3. I love my body, just as it is, right now. Cosmo might not like it, but I don't super care.
4. I love my sense of adventure. Sitting at home just doesn't cut it for me. I am someone who has to go out and see something new.
5. I'm intelligent. 
6. I make people laugh. 
7. I picked a damn good husband. Whenever I brag about him on this blog, it's secretly a backdoor brag about my ability to land such a winner of a man.

A sexy man who loves cats? It's the dream, ladies.
8. I have an ass that won't quit. When I fall down, I can barely feel it, and I look great in high-waisted jeans.
9. I'm sensitive (in a good way). I cry for people when they are hurting, and I love the people in my life well.
10. I am secretly amazing at dancing. But seriously, you just haven't seen me yet.


I know it will be tempting to affirm me in these statements in the comments-section, but honestly, don't feel like you have to. Instead, I would seriously love for you to join in on this madness. In the comments section (or in the link-up below), let me know some things you love about yourself. Let's all break this cycle together. Now get after it, you awesome thing, you.

18 comments:

  1. oh my gosh this is so true! I'm horrible at taking compliments and then after the fact I'm like WHY couldn't I have just said thank you without putting myself down?? Not only is it unnecessary, it usually makes things awkward as well!

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    1. It is such a hard thing to do, but accepting compliments well really shifts your perspective. Just learning to say "thank you" to compliments has really been a challenge for me, but it's also been super gratifying.

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  2. Yes yes all of this yes! I loved watching Tina & Amy host ( and was SO ecstatic that Amy won for Parks) so I'm going to go look at your twitter :P I am kind of known for being "vain" in a joking way because I am one of the only people in my ~social group~ that openly acknowledges when I look good & I take shameless selfies, etc. I think they joke about it because they are so shocked but like, why should it be shocking that I find myself good looking most days?!

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    1. Awesome to hear! I tend to be very pro-selfies. Though I understand some of the arguments against them, I feel like they can also be a great way to celebrate your beauty! Here here!

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  3. Can I get an "AMEN?" Amen, but for real. Get out of my head and thoughts! Since you wrote this and I agree whole heartedly, I am going to start giving myself one fabulous compliment a day.

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    1. This is excellent news! What a great way to make a simple, but really powerful change. Get it, girl.

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  4. OH MY STARS, i love that picture of your husband. Mine loves our cats too, it's pretty freaking awesome. I love this post, I'm a new follower and this affirms that I made a good choice by clicking "follow"

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    1. So happy you found a cat man! It's seriously like striking gold. I'm also glad you made the choice to follow! Hope to see more of you around these parts.

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  5. I found your blog through the Daily Tay the other day am glad I did... I like this post a lot! it's so true though. Whenever I get a compliment, I have to consciously remind myself NOT to respond with something negative to counter whatever the person just said. why is it so hard to just say "thank you"? why do we do that?

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    1. So glad you found my blog as well! And yes, it is CRAZY hard to just respond normally when someone gives a compliment. I feel like I am always working against my natural instincts when I say "thank you" instead of something negative. That's how deeply-ingrained it is in all of us, I suppose.

      And thanks for the Twitter love too! I just checked out your blog and I'm excited to follow more of your adventures.

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  6. Girl, this post would be a perfect link-up!

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  7. I like my hair.

    That was all I was going to write, because you would have laughed. But I also have to thank you. You know this hit home for me. Emily is correct, this should be a link up, dear.

    --Alex

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  8. This is awesome! Love this post. And I agree with Emily that this would be a great link-up!

    Alison, http://lavieambrose.blogspot.com/

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  9. I seriously love this and, if it's okay with you, would like to use this as inspiration for a similar post of my own. I would of course link back to you. But you're right, women in particular should embrace our strengths instead of downplaying them. It's a horrible habit of mine.

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  10. LOVED! You are right! Everyone should think of things that they like about themselves! I may just do a post on it! ;) Thanks for the inspiration!

    xoVeronica

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  11. I'm jumping on the bandwagon here to say that this was such a well written post and I'm so glad you did it! I think we all know how easy it is to fall into a rut and be consistently down on ourselves. But, if you can't be your own cheerleader, who else is going to care enough to do it? (Besides Mommies, of course!) Anyways - that is one great thing about my daily Dove Dark Chocolate - I get at least one awesome compliment a day.

    I think my list would definitely start out with: I am an amazing cook. And I have great hair.

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  12. I LOVE this. Working on my list in my head right now (should 'I'm superb at mentally composing blot posts,' make the cut?).

    Also, that picture. Of your husband with the cat. Tooooo cute. I landed myself a sexy husband who loves cats too! #winning

    -Amy

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