Friday, November 21, 2014

Not wanting to brag ... or promote myself!

I gave a talk this week to the Wetaskiwin Genealogical Society.  They were a good group and I think the talk went over well.

Anyhow, beforehand the friend of mine who was introducing me asked if I had copies of the journal where my article had been published.  I had brought both of my copies with me.  He told me I should promote it, but I balked.  He wondered why - he was proud of my accomplishment and thought I should be able to easily advertise.

But that makes me VERY uncomfortable.  And that made me question why ...

Okay ... so I'm going to be completely honest here, and it's going to make me uncomfortable, because it makes me feel like you might think I'm bragging (and that makes me uncomfortable).  But when I was a child in elementary school, I was a pretty smart kid.  I got good grades with putting VERY little work into it (which annoyed my mother no end).  But I soon learned that I would get teased, put down, in a couple of cases physically shoved and pinned down on the playground, and chastised by the other kids when I was proud of what I had done.  I was not popular.  I think I was probably considered a braggart.  You know Hermione from Harry Potter?  Well, I think I was Hermione.

But I didn't like what it did to my ego.  I didn't like feeling like I was different, and I didn't like feeling like I wasn't popular.  I also didn't like people thinking that I thought I was better than them just because I had good grades.

So I learned to hide it.  Sort of.  You can't hide being on the honour roll or winning awards (unless you completely shut down and stop getting the good grades, which I wasn't going to do - until I got into high school, really, and my social life took over from the honour roll), but you can be super humble, not brag about your grades, be humorous and nice, and hope that people don't notice.  You over-compensate with other aspects of your personality.

Honestly, I don't know if I did this - you'd have to talk to my friends to find out if I was successful.  But in any case, the lesson I learned from school is that you shouldn't brag about yourself or what you've accomplished, and if you do talk about them, you should make them seem less important than they feel.

And that sticks with me today.  I am horrible at self-promotion.  I will share blog posts, but I find it hard to advertise them - to make them sound better than they are.  I am horrible at asking for money.  I am horrible at writing resumes and cover letters.  This has likely slowed my career somewhat.  I'm not upset about that.  I'm happy where I am.  It was just really interesting to sit down and think about why I am this way.

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