Shortly before we moved to Australia, I remember talking with a friend of mine about what I was going to do for work once we arrived. At the time, I was unclear as to how that piece of the puzzle might unfold. I had some writing projects on the docket, contracts with several publishers, and a few things here and there – but the bigger picture was yet to be determined.
During that conversation, I was told that should I find myself navigating through interviews or the possibility of going to work for someone else, I would need to ‘un-American’ myself. I wasn’t quite sure how to process that and chalked it up to simply acclimating to life in another country, that or the fact that we were fresh off the 2016 election and many people were still scratching their heads across the globe at the result.
After we were here, I heard a group of people call someone a ‘tall poppy.’ I had never heard the term before, so I took to Google to investigate.
The ‘tall poppy’ syndrome describes aspects of a culture where people of status are resented, attacked, cut down, strung up or criticised…
I inquired about the term with my in-laws, knowing they would be able to provide some perspective. We discussed it at length. I struggled to wrap my head around this idea that being successful could be viewed as a bad thing.
I didn’t get it then. I still don’t get it now.
It made me question if what I was being told prior to making our way abroad was to dilute my own experience on account of how someone else might react.
But why should you, or I, or anyone else feel ashamed or be attacked because of success?
I was talking with a girlfriend recently who reached out seeking advice as she prepares to position herself for a promotion at work. As we were talking about her accomplishments and accolades, I noticed she downgraded the significance of those things and was uncomfortable talking about them.
Seeing someone who has every right to celebrate the result of a lot of hard work and effort shy away from doing so because of how others might respond to those things, was absolutely infuriating.
It made me wonder how many other accomplished and amazing women have done the same – allowed their success to be muted or their voice to be silenced on account of someone else or for fear of being judged.
If you are good at something, say it. It you reach a goal, celebrate it. If you experience tremendous success, own it! You should never be made to feel like you need to silence your success to make someone else feel better.
The idea that there is this cultural undertone of people who cut others down because they are successful seems ridiculous to me and has very little to do with the fact that you did something great, it is simply because they didn’t.
So, why downgrade your success, your accomplishments, or reaching your goals to avoid ridicule from someone who allows insecurity to be the guiding force behind their reaction?
While some people are busy living their life from the sidelines, you are actually in the game.
And that is something you should never apologize for.
When I talk about my group of friends from ‘back home’ or the network of amazing women we created, this is one of the things I value the most about those friendships. There was no competition or insecurity. We genuinely enjoyed seeing our friends accomplish amazing things and worked hard to be a sounding board when one of us needed it. We were the loudest cheerleaders as one of us was crossing the finish line on a major project or experiencing massive success.
In fact, just last week I received two separate emails from friends simply saying, “cheering you on long distance – you got this girl!”
Women truly supporting other women.
One of the greatest joys of now owning a business of my own, is the clients I get to interact with. I meet incredible people from all walks of life, all with one thing in common – an amazing story. And while there is a lot to be said for humility, I often find myself reminding them that it’s okay to celebrate the milestones. It’s okay to be amazing.
Sometimes it simply takes another person saying it, for us to be okay feeling it.
Words. Wouldn’t you rather yours were uplifting as opposed to critical?
Whether it is the colleague raising three children. The mom who is financially supporting her family. The friend who gave up her career to stay at home with her children. The young woman fresh out of college stepping into her first professional position. Or the friend putting herself out there for a promotion. We all need to feel supported from time to time.
Life is hard, why make it even more difficult by competing with or tearing one another down? What a waste of energy!
In the same amount of time it takes to judge another person because of what she is wearing, her parenting skills, or to simply partake in office gossip, you could be complimenting, supporting, and lifting her up.
And well, someone once told me happiness causes a lot less wrinkles – so your face will thank you later.
If you have ever been made to feel ashamed because you were good at something, ridiculed because you are successful, or criticized because of something you accomplished – it is time to toss all that aside! Be proud. Be confident. Be unashamed. Be unapologetic in your pursuit for success.
The alternative is warming the bench from the sidelines.
Stay in the game! Own it.
Don’t let those who gave up on their dreams influence you to give up on yours!
Cheers to a new week, chasing dreams, and celebrating success.