I have been wrecking my brain to figure out why we, as women, are always so embarrassed to sell ourselves. I am not sure if it is just me, or are we all conditioned that way? This week has been a very important one for me. I have a pitched to work on a very exciting project for an agency. The role is very diverse and you need to be skilled in many different ways. I have had to pull all the stops with presentations and tests as well as various interviews with many heads of departments. It was not brain-surgery for me to do the tests, as I have spent many years doing exactly what they require. I have built up the skill-set over many hours, days and years to perfect what I do. I know that there is no one better to manage the project but myself.
Do you know that even reading what I wrote there makes me cringe. I was sitting in the interview and I can hear myself saying “I don’t want to sound full of myself but I will be able to….” (insert X, Y, Z) My question is; Why is it so taboo for women to talk about themselves in a positive, confident manner? Why do we have to make excuses to be talk about what we can do and that we are good at what we do and we are proud of who we are? Why do we have to be proud “undercover”?
I was there to sell myself, for no other reason. They did not ask me to come and sit there and tell them how mediocre I am but yet there I was feeling bad for talking about myself? If I don’t do it who will? Who will be my spokesperson if I don’t open my mouth and tell them? Will someone, on my behalf, tell them what I can do? How do you get ahead in your career by being modest about your talents? We are always saying “women rise up”, we are always saying “women support women” but what about supporting ourselves and rising up for ourselves?
I think that, (speaking for myself before everyone gets their panties in a knot again, or their underpants for that matter) I was raised as a South African woman and should be seen and not heard, they should be bold but not too bold, don’t step out of line, don’t be different, don’t talk yourself up, don’t have your own mindset and the list goes on. I know I was not born this way, I was born equal with equal opportunities and a clean slate. I want to be proudly me with not having to start a sentence with “excuse me for saying something nice about myself but….”
If you come to the end of your life and lived a mediocre life so-that you don’t offend people with your light, you will be the only one suffering for that… If you come to the end of your career and you have achieved only the necessary as not to offend others and to keep them comfortable, then you will be the only one to blame… If one day, you look back and think about the people who were judging you for being your own best sales person, where would they be? Would they matter? Would they even be in your life? Do you think if you could do things differently would you?
I did sell myself in the end, and spoke about myself like I loved myself, like I loved my career and loved what I do. Because I do. I did apologise for that too, and I can promise you it will be very last time that I do so. It is not about if I will get the position or not… I also don’t know how my career, or life will pan out… I DO know that from this point forward, I will have my own back when-ever I represent myself. If people judge you for confidence, let them. Remember that you will always be the only one sitting in that meeting, and sometimes you will only have that one shot. I think we need to start focussing on what makes us good at what we do. Why are we the best? Then go tell the world. Don’t worry about how people feel about how you feel about yourself. Let them do them and you do you. Contribute, and do so proudly and boldly.