IT’S TIME TO TOOT OUR OWN HORNS, SAYS EMILY NAISMITH.
A convincing case for tooting our own horns.
What’s the last thing you did that you were proud of? Did you finish a work project that made you super-happy? Maybe you drew something you didn’t recognise as your own because it was just so good. Or perhaps you did the first round on that Couch to 5k app, then burst into tears because you’ve never run before. (Yes, it counts as running!) Well, this is your reminder to celebrate that shit and tell people all about it.
I get it – it’s totally unnatural to spruik your achievements, especially if you’ve traditionally been expected to just do your work and get on with it. As a kid, when I told people I’d done something cool, the response was often, “Do you want a medal?” And yes, I’ll tell you what… I DID WANT A MEDAL! I wanted it to be heavy and made of solid fucking gold, and I wanted to put it around my neck and pretend to bite into it like a goddamn Olympian because I was bloody proud of the fact I just cleaned my shitshow of a bedroom when no one even asked me to. Come and look at the wall where I stuck all my Tazos and organised them in a beautiful rainbow spectrum! That’s genius-level cleaning and decorating right there!
Is some validation for my hard work too much to ask? Back then, every time I heard “do you want a medal?” it made me feel like I was a needy little bitch for sharing something I was proud of. Combine that with society’s habit of devaluing girls and folks with chronic illnesses and I began to feel like I should never share anything I achieved, and in fact, should take up the least amount of space possible because there were more worthy achievements to celebrate. Well, just looooook at all this spaaaace I’m takingggg up nowwwwwww!
We’re often told bragging is bad. But there’s a difference between bragging (which implies you’re doing it to make others feel inferior) and just telling people about something cool you’ve done. It’s a bit braggy when people say, “Ugh, getting sick of this view… it’s my third time in Sicily this year!” (*Insert visual of a beach so beautiful it literally makes you want to cry*) But you know what’s not braggy? A mate messaging to tell you they presented their ideas to the big bosses at work and didn’t spontaneously combust! Or your sister ringing to say she’s super-pumped she was accepted into a volunteer position at an art gallery! Or that person you randomly met because they had the same jacket as you telling everyone they’re writing a freaking book now!
I love those moments of pride from other people. They make me feel happy, too! But even so, they’re hard to put out there. The self-doubt is real. “Will people hate me if I share this story I spent days writing, which is the closest thing to the inside of my brain that anyone will ever see? They’ll probably make a mental note to never speak to me again, and while they’re at it, unfollow my dead dog on Instagram,” is what I think. But maybe they don’t actually think that. Do you think that? Are you thinking that right now while you’re reading this? Oh god.
But, despite how it may feel on the inside, this is my call to arms to share your accomplishments with others. It’s good to be proud of stuff you’ve worked hard on. Chuck it up on Instagram! Message your wins to your friends! Explain your work triumphs to your family (even if it means explaining what you actually do again)! And while we’re all doing that, I’d just like to say that in 2002 I made an incredible installation of Tazos on my wall, organised by colour. It looked so good. Like, really good.