Dichotomies: How to Brag and How to Sad Brag

rockin

I was reading a post earlier about labels, and how we often feel ok with labeling ourselves descriptively (atheist, female, etc) but not in a complimentary manner (hero, humanitarian, etc). While I feel like this is true, I wonder why. What is so wrong with noticing when we’ve done good things and labeling it ourselves? I feel that one of the problems that many people have is that they feel they can’t own the good things they do: they feel they have to wait for outside recognition because it’s considered bragging to talk about it and label it themselves. Well I’m going to be honest: I think we could all use a little more self-validation. While sometimes bragging can lead to comparisons and competition, I think if we stopped waiting so long to see when OTHER people notice that we’ve done good things and just said “I did a good thing” to ourselves, we might actually see a reduction in how competitive we are. We don’t need to one-up people in order to be noticed: we can notice ourselves.

So I’m going to take this moment to pat myself on the back for things that have been going really well for me lately, not because I want you all to feel jealous or compare yourselves to me, but because I’m genuinely excited and happy, would like to share, and want to be able to say that I feel GOOD about myself in a few areas. I have two job interviews in the next two days and one of them is for a job that I’m actually really interested in. I’m actually making enough money right now that I can put things away for retirement. It has been over a week since I self-harmed and I am going to continue that streak for AT LEAST three more weeks because I want to be cut free when I go to California. I have been in a bad job situation for 3 months now, and I have not crashed and burned. I have managed to deal with it, to brainstorm solutions, to find ways to tolerate the distress. There have been slipups certainly, but I am doing better than I have in YEARS. HOLY SHIT I AM AWESOME. When things go like this for me, I often look like the featured pic.

However despite being able to say all of this, and despite the fact that I can recognize that I have done some things quite well in recent history, I think the ability to speak our successes always needs to be a dialectic. I am always a proponent of being OPEN, and I think that this is no exception: if we’re going to be able to recognize our own successes, we also have to be able to recognize our own struggles. And we can recognize that these things may be one and the same. We have to be able to hold “I did some amazing things” at the same time as we hold “I am struggling so hard right now” and recognize that both can be true. Now first of all this is incredibly difficult. At the same time as I recognize that I have some wonderful opportunities right now and that I’ve done some things very right, I can also recognize that I’ve done some things very wrong. I’ve been struggling in my relationships lately, especially with the amount of effort I’ve been putting in to just feel sane with myself. I HAVE slipped up while trying to deal with this job, and I’ve let my mindset fall backwards in many ways. It has been a very hard couple of months for me trying to navigate the waters of semi-adulthood, paying for my own apartment, figuring out how to feed myself, working a full time job.

sad

This is more what I look like when I think about those things. But I have STILL done awesome things. I have started a personal blog, started blogging for CFI On Campus, started planning a (very tentative) conference with some friends…

So I would like to propose that we as human beings become more comfortable saying out loud our strengths and weaknesses. Not the namby pampy job interview version of this, but actually going to twitter and saying “I did something awesome. I’m proud of me”, and not feeling guilty about it. And then going to twitter five minutes later and saying “I’m still struggling. And I’m not guilty about that either”. Human beings are remarkably capable of being contradictory things at the same time. We are filled with dichotomies. It’s something I’ve been spending a lot of time with in my DBT therapy, and I think it’s something that all of us need to learn to be more comfortable with.

 

Written by Olivia

2 thoughts on “Dichotomies: How to Brag and How to Sad Brag

  1. Cassie says:

    Amen! I applaud your openness and your forward thinking.
    Two thoughts. 1) It is good to recognize the good in ourselves. But I think there is often a fine line between doing just that and then becoming conceited/proud/arrogant. But your second point does address that…to not do that, you also have to be open about where we’re struggling and our shortcomings. Also, often the people I have respected most were the ones that did the good things quietly (or without boasting) and held high standards of respect for themselves and others. You could tell that they saw the good in themselves and they didn’t have to prove it to anyone. Knowing it for themselves was enough. (That’s not to say that its wrong to say it out loud to someone or to post something on facebook.)
    2) Have you heard of Brene Brown? She is a researcher and studies shame and vulnerability. I think you would like her. She’s written a few books and has done a couple TEDTalks. Check her out!

    • oj27 says:

      1.You are totally right that some people have the amazing ability to just know for themselves and have respect for themselves. I am not one of those people, so I’m practicing saying it out loud :)
      2.I have not, I will definitely check her out.

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