Pop quiz, friends. Have you ever been guilty of any of the following?
a) hurriedly cleaning your house before friends pop round and when they compliment your spotless space you get all “Oh this mess? No!”
b) perfecting the art of ‘I’m-not-wearing-makeup’ makeup. And then wearing it to the gym.
c) attempting to win every pot luck you attend by bringing an overly involved and impressive dessert. And then acting like it’s something you just threw together with the ingredients in your fridge.
d) removing carbs, cheese and joy from your diet so you can look amazing in your swimsuit. And then when someone says you look great, you wax modest.
Sound familiar? No? Just me. Awkward.
I spent the better part of my twenties (and maybe the first year of my thirties) engaging in competition level Effort And Accomplishment Downplay. All those countries I visited? Oh, it’s no big deal, you just book a ticket and go. That MA? I didn’t write a thesis, it’s just an MA through coursework. These jeans that still fit? I just got lucky and inherited a fast metabolism.
Downplaying the effort that goes into our accomplishments serves absolutely no one. Not.one.single.person.
If somebody wants to follow in your footsteps, you’ve just completely misrepresented the amount of work that goes into starting a business/having a great marriage/running a marathon.
You’re (inadvertently!) creating totally unrealistic standards for others. Most awesome things aren’t particularly easy. If you tell me that training for a marathon was “no bigs” for you and it’s been crazy hard for me? Well, now I have a complex.
You deserve credit for all the hard work you’ve done. When you tell a friend that it’s not a big deal that you just got into your first choice grad school, you’re removing her opportunity to praise you and make the fuss that you deserve.
Now, I’m not suggesting that every time someone compliments you, you announce “Ohmygod, you won’t believe how much work went into this winged eyeliner!” But next time someone notices the beautifully decorated room/six pack abs/impressive resume that you’ve slaved over – why not say “Thanks so much! I’ve worked really hard on it.”
After burning out on her jobs in marketing, advertising and event planning, Sarah Von Bargen sold her worldly belongs and moved to Taiwan to teach English.
And then she moved to New Zealand.
And then she traveled for ten months by herself.
Somewhere along the way she earned an M.A. and started a blog called Yes and Yes that’s now read by 10,000+ people every day and supports her and her traveling ways.