This is gonna be a personal story with a video attachment. That’s right, I’m coming out of the gate swingin!
I (as mentioned in my ‘About’ page, check it out!) am getting a Masters degree. (I’ve started calling in my Mistress degree to call attention to the inadequacy and bias of language, but that’s another story for another day.) Last semester I was in a class titled ‘Thesis Seminar’. All of us were gathered to prepare to write our thesis, the seminal project in our MA journey. We spent all semester commiserating, discussing, freaking out, and working super hard on proposals and definitions and personal essays. The culminating event was a night of creative presentations (we are all completing artistic thesis’, ie a thesis w/ an artistic component.) Everyone got a chance to show some of their work, whether it was photographs, videos, or a reading of plays or novels or memoirs. I cannot express to you how impressive each and every student in the room was. Each scholar was a talented expert in their field, and it was painfully clear to me how hard we’d all been working and how great all of our projects were going to be. I was moved and inspired by every single one of my classmates.
The other realization that was painfully clear was less positive. I realized that all of us, myself included, had spent all semester down playing how smart we were. I accounted for this by acknowledging that the room was filled almost entirely with women, mostly artists, and many projects occupying a queer space in academia. We all made jokes and expressed insecurity, and none of us had owned our expertise. We were all being quiet and hesitant, afraid to believe that we knew what the fuck we were doing. And all of us do. All of us really do.
This is not a phenomenon that is exclusive to academia. It happens everywhere. Women are much more likely then men to quietly succeed, to second guess themselves, to attribute their success to some factor other than themselves. This is a huge obstacle to personal success and fulfillment, in any field. I for one am trying to succeed more loudly, to let people know about my work and how cool I think it is and how proud I am so be earning my Mistress at age 23 (I’m a baby, I know.) So don’t be shy about how smart and dope you are. Make sure you own your intelligence and expertise. It might not always be easy to be a smart woman, but confidence in your abilities is the only way to make it to the top. You don’t have to be a bitch about it (unless the situation calls for that) but remember this: it ain’t braggin if you’ve already done it.
And now, a video that (in part) discusses this. This is the full video, there are also shorter clips if you don’t have 15 mins. But you should just watch when you do have 15 mins…
Now go have an intelligent convo w/ someone, and don’t you dare apologize for how smart you are or how much you are talking. Dominate the convo. Be proud. Be loud. Be… well, I ran out of rhymes, but just remember that confidence is not bitchy-ness and that you deserve to shine to your full brightness potential. Those who think you are too bright should fuck off or buy sunglasses.