It’s time we stopped teaching women to feel guilty about showing off

‘Sorry, some self-promo here but…’

I was flicking through my various social media platforms when I had an epiphany about my girlfriends. They feel guilty.

Be it on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, these girls spend time composing and editing posts in order to make sure they don’t come across a certain way. You know the kind : “Sorry for the self-promo but I did a little something that you might like.” I know they do it because I am one of those girls and frankly, it’s about time we stopped.

Our lives are lived out on social media and of course, we all edit the version of ourselves we present in order to cultivate a certain image. Every waking moment is recorded, preserved and wrapped up in a pretty parcel of flattering filters and cute captions. But while we’re more than willing to share intimate snapshots of our lives and a plethora of selfies with the world, the same girls who do are somewhat ironically, scared of promoting their projects.

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Maybe we’re scared of presenting ourselves as brash, overconfident divas or maybe it is the little voice inside our head that screams “women are meant to be pretty and modest!” Who knows. Whatever it is, I for one am riddled with fear every time I commit to posting a piece of myself on social media. I analyse the caption, subconsciously inserting an undertone of self-deprecation in order to deflect from the evident self-promotion. I worry that I am annoying people and often work out when I last posted in order to calculate if enough time passed for me to post again.

I didn’t realise I did it until someone commented: “Never apologise for putting yourself out there Meg. Your writing is inspiring. Continue to share it.”

When I looked for it, I realised that a lot of my friends are scared of the judgment that undeniably comes from “putting yourself out there”. From university friends sharing their music and articles, to old friends posting their art work and food blogs, there is an underlying air of nervousness from the girls who do it. There seems to be some kind of formula to their posts and it goes like this: warning about self-promo + polite invitation to engage in plugged content + cute sign off (ex. Love ya xoxo) in order to end by distracting from aforementioned self-promotion.

The reality is that while women are told they are capable of everything, there is a great deal so deeply rooted in the feminine psyche that it makes being confident about their capabilities all of the time somewhat tricky. Of course, there are women that are exceptions to the rule but most of them would never admit to being intelligent or to being proud of what they are sharing. Have you ever read a Facebook plug along the lines of: “Wrote this blog and it is bloody awesome. You’d be stupid not to read it!”

Of course you haven’t. It’s just not something we tend to read. Whilst we’re inclined to ‘like’ pictures of people’s faces, comments and judgements are made when people share good grades or achievements. People worry that they might seem “full of themselves” or come across as “cocky”.

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Let’s be honest, from a career point of view, the world is hard. Jobs aren’t being thrown at us. You’re expected to know what you want to be by the age of 14.  By the time you start looking for job, you’re expected to have years of experience, excellent references, a string of internships, and an established portfolio of your work. Increasingly, companies demand an online social media presence, especially in the creative industries. Forging said presence requires regular sharing, a great deal of exposure and hell of a lot of self-promotion.

All of which convinces me that actually, we should champion one another’s work. If you’re not going to champion yourself, who is? We shouldn’t be scared of the exposure anymore. Sure, it invites people to comment and it leaves you open to judgement but surely you’d rather engage in criticism from your peers that face harsh comments from faceless trolls?

If you’ve got something to shout about and it gives you even a modicum of pride, in a time when the world is ripping you apart, god damn it you should share it. Own your space in the world. Be unapologetic about having a voice. If you’re pleased with yourself, don’t shy away from sharing it. Maybe, just maybe, if our self-promotion was served up with a nourishing side of self-love, the intelligent women filling my feed would spend less time apologising for their work and more time celebrating it and being heard.

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