I’m Done Minimizing My Accomplishments To Make Men Feel Better About Themselves

I see it all the time and I’ve been guilty of doing it myself: women who’ve worked hard to get what we have and be where we are will downplay our achievements to less successful men. Here are some reasons why we do it and, most importantly, why we need to stop.

1. We’re afraid we’ll come off as conceited.

There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance and we’re afraid of crossing it. We’re much more forgiving when men come around oozing self-assurance, but it’s natural for us to tread on the humble side. While men welcome glorification for even the smallest achievements, we shrivel our wins by peppering in words to seem modest, like, “Oh, it’s no big deal.” It is and we need to start acting like it.

2. We don’t want to hurt feelings.

If guys are missing out on something because of a self-induced crappy situation, we sympathize, feel guilty, and adjust. A friend of mine didn’t go down south for her normal annual spring vacay that she saved all year for because the guy she was dating was getting eviction notices and she didn’t want to make him feel bad. That same guy bought a new big-screen TV to replace his other big-screen TV. It’s all about choices and we’re not responsible for anyone else’s.

3. We don’t want to intimidate them.

If we have our acts together and their lives are messy, they may feel inadequate in comparison. No, it’s not just something we tell ourselves—this has now been (sadly) proven by science. Still, why should we hide or downplay our achievements just because guys may feel intimidated by them? It’s not our job to assuage their egos.

4. We want to build common ground.

I was a good student, partly because I learn quickly and partly because I studied my butt off. I remember lying about my grades to a guy I liked who was on his way to flunking out. I wanted him to think we had a mutual struggle and to come across as sympathetic. (He was at the bar much more than he was hitting the books, BTW.) “Oh yeah, the professor is so unfair.” Not really. It’s not worth it to pretend to be less than we are—we should be finding guys on our level, not sinking down to theirs.

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6. We use demure language that shrinks us.

Out of habit, we add in cushion words, like how we always apologize when we’ve done nothing wrong. Tara Mohr writes on Goop, “Most women are unconsciously using these speech habits to soften our communications, to try to ensure we don’t get labeled—as women so often do—as bitchy, aggressive, or abrasive.” Let’s save those words for when they’re actually warranted, OK?

7. We have more foresight.

We have greater self-control and we don’t get swept up by the moment as easily. This is why, when we meet a new guy, we’re already evaluating his long-term potential. It’s not that we’re needy or clingy, it’s that we have a vision beyond the here and now. We see the big picture. Delayed gratification is harder but generally leads to higher success. Because we know most guys aren’t really there yet, we sometimes pretend we’re just as slow on the uptake, selling ourselves short in the process.

8. Pop culture encourages self-deprecation in women.

It’s getting better, but most TV shows, movies, and Disney stories all encourage these archaic stereotypes. According to them, it’s the men that are supposed to have all the accomplishments and we’re just expected to swoon when they whisk us away on their private jets/on the backs of their white horses. Or worse, they help us get it together. Hard no.

9. We sometimes believe rhetoric over reality.

Our expectations are just fine, thank you. No, we’re not asking for Christian Grey. Everyone has setbacks. We’ve all needed to regroup, and we’re loving, understanding, and supportive by nature. But too many guys lately are using “finding themselves as a prolonged excuse for not growing up. There needs to be action toward improving and making the situation better.

10. We’re used to working hard so we don’t see it as anything special.

We’ve all made sacrifices along the way to getting where we are. In fact, we’re likely still doing it on a daily basis because we have big goals. Whether that was working 80-hour weeks or taking on 50K in student loans, we’re doing it. We’re used to working hard and getting the job done, but that’s exactly why we sometimes downplay it—it doesn’t feel “special,” per se, just what we have to do if we want to get somewhere in life.

11. The right guy is cheering right now.

Part of enjoying the spoils of our hard work is the privilege of being openly and shamelessly proud of our accomplishments. Great men prop us up when we’re down and celebrate us when we’re not. We shouldn’t ever have to downplay our awesomeness. Our guys must champion our wins the loudest, irrelevant to their own current or future situation (giant foam finger optional).

Diana Jordan is a Canadian writer, editor, and small business owner. When not working or spending time with her family and friends, she volunteers with seniors and adults with disabilities in her community. Diana is also a passionate sports fan and a merciless Chess player.