At work today, I showed a new co-worker my first probation report, just so she could get a sense of what management is looking for when she is being evaluated as an employee. I wanted to help her. As a Staff Services Analyst (SSA), one is on probation for their first year, and receives three probation reports: the first on month four, the second on month eight, and the final on year one. Then, one achieves permanent status as a state employee and has certain job protections afforded to them.
I decided to show her my first probation report, although my final one was way better — practically off the charts for an SSA. I told my co-worker that I was showing her my first probation report because I was embarrassed about the final report that I received. I was telling her the truth — I was embarrassed — but I did not tell her the reason.
Why would I hide my greatness from her? Why would I hold back?
I worked long and hard to develop my self-esteem. I know I am smart. I know I am a fantastic analyst. I know I am a good writer, although I am still developing my blogging skills. I know my own strengths and weaknesses, and I have a fairly balanced sense of self. It took me years to get to where I am with my self-esteem, but I am here. I still have a long way to go, however.
I think that part of my self-esteem is still wrapped up in how others see me. I want people to think I am a wonderful person, but not full of myself. Would showing my co-worker all of my “outstanding” ratings (the highest rating one can receive) in my final probation report give off the vibe that I am bragging about myself? That I am better than others? That was not the way I wanted to present myself, so I refrained from showing her.
I think the message that society sends to women (men, too, but especially women) is “Realize your self-worth, but don’t show it to others.” In other words, I need to keep my self-esteem to myself. But by squirreling away my heightened sense of self, I am doing a disservice to myself. I am not fully realizing my self-esteem.
Modesty can be good, but only up until a point. Of course, one should not put themselves up on a pedestal and profess to be the greatest person in the whole wide world. But if one is hiding their gifts from the world, then they are not doing society any favors by being modest.
I know I am good. I know I have a lot of gifts to offer to people. I would like to do a lot of good, but can I do that if I am hiding my true worth?
I don’t think so.
I know it is more effective to show people the many things I am capable of than to tell them. But I did not even have the courage to show my co-worker my “outstanding” probation report. If I keep this up, then how will I ever get ahead in life? I don’t want to remain stagnant. I want to grow even more as a person. But with growing comes growing pains. Growing is going to be uncomfortable. But staying comfortable and cozy keeps me in one place, not moving forward. I have places to go and people to help. So, what do I need to do to push past the discomfort and become the person I was meant to be?
I must put myself out there. I must be fine with showing people what I am capable of. I must help people develop themselves. I am a leader. I need to lead. If I want to be a champion for mental health, then I must know the way, go the way, and show the way.
Yes, I know this blog post is about me telling you how great I am. That makes me uncomfortable. But I am tired of being modest and not living up to my full potential. The greatest leaders are not modest. They show people that they are great leaders. They do not shrink when people compliment them. They accept the compliment with grace, and are fueled by that compliment to become even greater.
I am going to stop shrinking myself when someone mentions that I am intelligent and I do good work. There are people out there who will want to make me feel small. In fact, I have been faced with that my entire life. I’m tired of being beaten down by them. But it is my responsibility to rise above their insults and become the person I was meant to be.
I am going to say yes, that self-esteem and modesty do conflict with each other. I don’t need to tell everyone that I am the best (I’m really not), but I don’t need to dismiss people’s compliments either.
If you know your self-worth, then by all means, do something with it. Climb mountains. Write that book. Start that blog. Become a thoughtful leader. But you will only go so far by being modest.