What are you proud of?

What are you proud of?

What are you proud of? | Modern Mrs Darcy

A few months ago, I was a guest on the Brilliant Business Moms podcast.

Beth Anne and Sarah asked me a question that has been rattling around in my head ever since.

It’s a question they ask every guest: “When it comes to your business, what is the one accomplishment that you are the most proud of?”

Honestly, I was surprised they asked that question. That question is fraught with peril … if you’re a woman.

There are so many ways to blow a question like that.

There are the obvious ways: you can outright brag, which is bad, or humble brag, which is worse.

Or you can sabotage yourself in a more subtle way. Unfortunately, for women, talking about your business successes undermines your likability. It’s much safer to defer, claiming luck or circumstance as the cause of our success, rather than anything we did. Naming a professional success we’re proud of is dangerous.

Maybe the question intrigues me not in spite of, but because of, these dangers. Maybe that’s why I keep coming back to it.

What are you proud of?

I felt conflicted when Beth Anne and Sarah asked me that question, but I can tell you exactly why I’m proud of my kids, my husband, my girlfriends, without the tiniest bit of hesitation.

But when it comes to myself, I’m stumped.

On the podcast, I hemmed and hawed and deferred a bit. I cited luck, time, and circumstance as a key factors, as women typically do. (In my defense: I believe it. I think Malcolm Gladwell’s on my side.)

I did make myself give a real answer to their question. It wasn’t easy, and I hope my likability index didn’t plummet because of it.

What are you proud of?

I can easily identify and articulate the things about myself that frustrate me, the areas where I fall short, the items that remain perpetually uncrossed on my to-do list. It’s much harder for me to even notice the times when I—in Webster’s words—”take pride in a job well done.”

But Sarah and Beth Anne’s question has made me think I need to pay more attention to the things I’m doing right.

What are you proud of?

I’m proud of myself for sitting my butt down in the chair to do the work and WRITE every single day, even though it doesn’t come easy to this INFP.

I’m proud that sometimes I write things you think are worth reading. 

I’m proud that in my personal life, I can point to times when I did not give up, even though it was really tempting, and I can see now that it was worth sticking it through.

I’m proud that just two days ago I bought a silly tray at the antique shop because I liked it. I am deeply satisfied that I conquered the perfectionistic impulses that too often paralyze me and bought it even though I didn’t have a master plan for it. 

What are you proud of? 

If you have no clue what you might possibly be proud of in yourself, come at it through the side door. Think about your friends, your family, your kids. Why are YOU proud of THEM? Easy enough, right?

Then turn the lens back to yourself. It’s easier that way.

So tell me: what are you proud of? (Anonymous comments welcome.)

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40 comments

  1. Kristen says:

    I think my answer to that question was the same as yours when I did my interview…when it comes to blogging, I’m proud of the community that I’ve fostered and built.

    I think some of my hesitation in listing things I am proud of in myself is that at a root level, pride can be an ugly monster (when it makes you look down on others, when it makes you lash out over wounded pride, etc.) But that sort of pride is not the variety you’re really talking about. What you’re referring to is maybe something that I think of more like confidence or encouraging observances of growth in my life.

    So, I guess I would say something like that I am encouraged to see that I’m really making an effort to say yes to things that involve leaving the house (park dates, a Bible study) because that is hard for an introvert like me.

    • Beth Anne says:

      Kristen, that’s an amazing thing to feel proud of! I have to say, though too, you should be proud of your thoughtful writing on your blog. Proud of your beautiful photos. Proud that you say what’s on your mind even when others may not agree. Proud of your commitment to living frugally, and even more importantly, living what you believe – living according to your convictions.

      You have so very much to be proud of!

      (P.S. I’m proud of us asking you to be on the show 😉 )

      • Anne says:

        (It’s good to hear others reflect our accomplishments back to us, because it’s hard to recognize our own achievements. Love what you pointed out, Beth Anne.)

      • Aww, thank you for your kind words, Beth Anne! I’m proud of a lot of those too, and hopefully not in the ugly-pride way. I’m always so encouraged (and kind of surprised!) that I’m able to affect so many people’s lives through my blog. The internet is just such a crazy thing, isn’t it?

    • Anne says:

      Kristen, that’s an interesting distinction and I’m glad you made it here.

      And I relate to saying YES to things that involve leaving the house….

    • Kristen, I can’t help thinking of your very, very tactful post a few weeks ago answering a question from a reader who wanted to change his girlfriend about her spendy ways. Something to that effect.

      I was in awe at your diplomacy and how full of grace you were as you handled that question.

      WOW!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Sorry to get super serious, but I’m proud of the hurdles I’ve overcome so far in life. I had parents that sexually abused me, emotionally abused me, put me down, called me names, put me intentionally in bad situations, saddled me with debt and used me in lots of other ways. Then they dropped me off in my early twenties with every possible bad belief in my head. The first half of that decade was more abuse in the hands of boyfriends, employers, and friends. BUT, with God’s help, I’ve managed to pull myself out of all of that. I’m a nice, functioning woman with a job and a really great relationship. There’s still a lot I want to do in life, but I’m super proud that I didn’t let my past dictate my future.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thank you, Kristen! You can’t know how much that means to me!

        And, I really liked what you said about the two types of pride. It’s really easy to get them mixed up, so thanks for defining. And I can totally related to pushing your introverted self out of the house! That’s great!

    • Anne says:

      Don’t be sorry! Those are SERIOUS accomplishments. Well done. Thanks for sharing.

      “I’m super proud that I didn’t let my past dictate my future.” YES to this!

  3. B says:

    Such a good post! And so true…. I can think of a million-trillion things I’m *not* proud of…. This really made me think….. SO –

    I am proud to have stuck with my marriage of 28+ years – which began when I was 17 in not the most promising of circumstances. I’m proud that we have both been obedient to God’s call on our lives together and just kept walking even when it seemed like we were in quicksand. The fruit on this side of all the “slogging” is incredibly sweet.

    I am proud of the work I’ve done to develop the right side of this left-sided engineer brain of mine….. I love that I appreciate art and beauty in a way I didn’t in my twenties and most of my thirties. I love that I’ve been moved to *create*. And I love that maybe I’ve influenced my daughters and daughter-in-law in this area

    I’m proud that we’ve made our home a place of rest and refuge…..not just for our family, but for our adopted family as well as they move through the seasons of their lives.

    Thank you for this blog and for your faithfulness to write. It’s a place I’ve found myself grabbing a cup of coffee and coming to frequently over the past two months to be encouraged and informed. It makes me think about dusting my blog off and breathing new life into it!

    Have a wonderful day!

  4. You are so right Anne. We make it hard for other women to own up to their accomplishments. Kristen, The Frugal Girl, had a great article on her site about women who always present an image of a perfect life, even if it’s false. And here you bring up the flip side of the coin, sometimes as women we fall into the self deprecation trap in order to be more likeable. It’s a fine balance between owning up to faults, and owning up to accomplishments, but being genuine with both. Ahhhh! What a tight rope to walk. You have so much to be proud of, building this site where you write about such thought provoking topics! But I know what you mean about being proud of a business. I am very proud of the podcast, but I have only told my close circle of friends about it. It seems braggy or weird to tell friends that I think of myself as a business owner, when they think of me as “just” a stay at home mom. Which, by the way, there is nothing “just” about that! But if you ask any man what he “does” he can answer without hesitation. Hmmm. Off to ponder this more!

    • Anne says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Sarah. I completely relate to only telling a few close in-person friends about the podcast. (I do that, too.) But I want you to know how clear it is to me that you and Beth Anne are ROCKING it!

  5. D says:

    I am proud of having overcome an abusive first marriage with true forgiveness that has allowed me to have 28 wonderful years with my second husband . I am proud that I was able ( with time and prayer) to move beyond anger at God over my inability to have children and see all of the things He had planned for me. I am proud of a 35 year career as a teacher in which I touched the lives of many children and families. I am proud that I could retire with no regrets because I know I did my very best in my job. I am proud that I am overcoming my reserve and shyness and fear to be more involved in my community and church.
    When I think about it I am thinking of proud more in terms of being “thankful” because I could have done none of those things without reliance on God and His sprint and power nor without the support of my wonderfully patient and loving husband.
    I think it is OK to feel pride as long as we realize that we can do nothing in our own power.

  6. Beth Anne says:

    I love this post so much! I hope everyone walks away feeling a bit more confident – and uses that confidence for good… to keep pushing forward… to build on strengths and push past weaknesses.

    I think I’m that rare breed of female who feels pretty confident/proud most of the time. (Does that sound terrible? I don’t mean it in an arrogant way.) Maybe it was being the baby of the family, always working hard to get straight A’s, and having parents who were pretty great cheerleaders. (Don’t you think so, Sarah? Remember how Mom would always sing the Miss America song when we walked in the room?)

    On that note, I’m proud that Sarah and I have hustled, proud of us for being brave enough to ask talented women such as you, Kristen, or Crystal Paine to be on the podcast. I’m proud of us for looking impossible deadlines and demands in the face and saying, “We got this.” I’m proud that we still spend time every day having fun with our kids – laughing with them – appreciating them.

    On a personal level, I’m proud of my husband and I for taking a huge leap of faith and adopting Holden – a child we knew would most likely never walk – a child who, by the reports, was supposedly behind in language development (that one cracks me up now!) I’m proud that we didn’t let the crazy stories, tales of woe, and “are you sure about this?” questions stop us from following God’s plan. I’m proud of sucking it up and running my 2nd half marathon tomorrow… even though I feel like my time will be slower than my first one. I’m proud of being a Marine Corps Spouse (and often loathe it at the same time… is this possible?)

    Also, confession time: lately we’ve skipped that question on the podcast, but you’re making me realize that we need to bring it back. Let’s start a revolution of women who can own their accomplishments with quiet confidence.

    Anne – you have so much to be proud of too. I’m glad you listed out more reasons here today! Your blog always has me thinking.

    • Anne says:

      Beth Anne, I love what you shared here, personal and professional. (And you don’t sound arrogant, just confident in the best sense.)

      “Let’s start a revolution of women who can own their accomplishments with quiet confidence.” <-- YES!

    • So much love! Yes, be proud, Beth Anne 🙂 I’m so impressed that you can honestly say you feel confident and proud most of the time. There is nothing more intimidating, I think, than a truly confident woman. Confident not because she is boastful, or manipulative, or any other negative trait that women often fall prey to, but because she knows she’s put in a heckofalot of work and can see the results. Well done!

      • Beth Anne says:

        Thanks, Victoria!

        You have a lot to be proud of too!

        You’re a constant learner. You take action quickly and decisively. You put your faith first. You’re incredibly kind and considerate – always thinking of ways to help others.

        You’re such a blessing to Sarah and I!

  7. Janet says:

    I’m proud of the marriage I have shared with my husband, we married as teenagers and have been married 49 years. I’m proud of our daughter who we raised to be an independent woman (it’s so tempting to tie an only child close) and who is now living her dream of living in Japan.

  8. Tim says:

    When I think of pride in the sense of that dictionary definition, what it really looks like to me is not what I am most proud of but what I am most pleased about.

    Am I proud of how my kids have turned out? I see it more that I am pleased to say they have grown up into wonderful young adults.

    Am I proud of my marriage? I would say that I am pleased at the fact we just celebrated our 27th anniversary and that I enjoy my wife’s company over any other person I know. (There are tons of people who are tied for second, though! And our kids are in a category of their own – see preceding paragraph.)

    Am I proud of my blog’s development? No, but I have to say that I am so pleased that people come by to read and engage in comment and discussion and generally make it a better site than it could possibly be without them. (I count some of my bloggy friends as among those tied for second – see preceding paragraph.)

    So if what I call “pleased” is what the dictionary defines as “pride”, then I suppose these are things I’m proud of. But either way, I’m blessed.

  9. Allison says:

    Anne,
    I think this is one of the best topics we could be talking about, and I LOVE what people have been sharing so far! It is so important to clarify the difference between “proud” as in “prideful” and “proud” as in “confidence” and “thankful” and that sort of thing. You and others are right in that women just do not know, and are not taught, to accept their own accomplishments in an appropriate way. It comes across as “unseemly” and “unbecoming” (an old-fashioned word!).

    I came from a warped and dysfunctional family. My birth father died before I was born and my mom remarried when I was 18 months old. NO ONE spoke of my birth father; he was a “ghost.” I bonded with my maternal grandmother as a child, but I didn’t realize it–no one did–and when she died near my 13th birthday, everyone focused on my mom, and I couldn’t understand why I felt so bereft. I was surrounded by alcoholics in my family: grandparents, aunts and uncles, parents–you name it. The booze was EVERYWHERE.

    Fast forward all these years later–if it hadn’t been for the Lord, I KNOW I would’ve been an absolute MESS of a woman today. Yet, here I am, married for 34 years to a loving man, mom of 3 grown boys (all healthy, strong, and making their way in the world), 1 daughter-in-law, a college grad with 12 hours of graduate classes, full of peace, joy and gratitude for all that I have. Never got into the alcohol. I nearly died 2 years ago from surgical complications, but I am still here. I have more friends than I can count, and a home that my children can’t wait to return to year after year.

    Did I “accomplish” all of this? Not on my own, certainly. It would NEVER have happened without the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, or without the love and patience of my husband. BUT–it also wouldn’t have happened without the grit and stamina within my own soul, either. I think when we look at our accomplishments, we can rightly say that they are “ours,” but also keep in mind that we also do what we do in the context of community and by the grace and mercy of the Lord.

  10. Tina B says:

    This is a question that I’m comfortable with maybe because I’ve been in professional positions in the business world for 25 years, starting with three internships in college. I had a wonderful mentor in the career center who taught me to be ready for that question. Over the years, in order to progress in my career, I’ve needed to be able to confidently explain my strengths and accomplishments and to articulate why I should be selected to lead the next big project. Remember that men are taught to be proud of their accomplishments and to speak of them when appropriate. Women are typically taught not to “brag” about their accomplishments or to hide them. Such a different spin.

    My greatest professional accomplishment is leading an extremely rapid implementation of a software system with a very small team. We met the over-ambitious deadline. I was told later that nobody thought we would make it. We did. 🙂

  11. I quite like the dictionary definition, above. When framed that way, it doesn’t sound like it should be one of the seven deadly sins. Feeling satisfied by the accomplishments of yourself and the people you’re close to seems like a good thing, as long as you understand what those accomplishments took and aren’t lording it over other people.

  12. Jeannie says:

    I’m so glad you wrote about this subject, Anne! Thanks for sharing the things you are (very rightly) proud of.

    As an enneagram Six (if that means anything to anyone! 🙂 ) I am proud of myself when I listen to what my insides are telling me and avoid pressuring myself to do what others might think I should. For example, I’ve done very little writing since a family crisis happened a couple of months ago — I “should” be working on something for writing group next week but I’m going easy on myself till it feels right. I’m looking ahead/dreading a work project that will probably involve resolving some things with my co-worker/friend — but I’m not rushing either the project or the resolution because I’m just not ready.

    I’m also proud when I face my fears, such as my fear of flying. To visit my mom before she died, I had to fly alone. It was the right thing to do, I made priceless memories, and my dad was so grateful — so I’m proud that I pushed through the fear.

  13. 'Becca says:

    I am proud of being a real stickler for accuracy and making vast improvements to the data set of the big research study where I’ve worked for almost 16 years, and I’m proud of my role in our research findings that I hope are improving society. I’m proud of my children. But as I read your article, the thing that most came to mind as a big personal achievement that I’m proud of is my big recycling project, in which I personally saved thousands of cans and bottles from the landfill and ultimately, after a setback, helped to bring about a permanent change in the waste management of a big building.

  14. (Wow..that question really is hard to answer! For me, in part, I think it’s difficult to say why I’m proud – without any qualifiers – because of my faith. I am a Christian and I completely believe that everything I’ve been able to do has been through the grace and power of God, not my own strength. Having said that, if we are made in God’s image as a Creator, and he looked on his Creation and said it was “good”, surely we should be able to celebrate work well done. Stomaching my self-consciousness, here we go.)

    I’m proud that I delivered my daughter through a 20 hour natural labor. I’m proud of the work I do at my day job, and that my boss regularly tells me I’m an asset to the company. I’m proud that I’m pursing my writing seriously.

  15. Kim S. says:

    not to be a downer, but I’m proud that I’m a cancer survivor. I had stage three rectal cancer (the type people don’t like to discuss), 52 hours of chemo a pop, and have been in remission just over three years. It’s not a topic that I discuss often or at length, but I can honestly say I’m a completely different person now. However, that does leave the quandary of reconciling the “old” me (employed, completely outwardly motivated, deadline oriented and a perfectionist) to this “new” me (I can no longer work, I have some physical issues, I’ve moved to a safer but more isolated area, and it’s easy to shut away for days).

    I’m proud of the fact I’m trying to get some of my independence back. I’m continuing to work on a trying relationship with my mom while building a new one with my mother in law. My relationship with my fiancé blooms, especially since we got our first house this past Feb.

    And I’m proud of the fact that I still write when I can. I haven’t found a place to write yet, but the idea of “writing when the words come” has returned, after over five years. BUT, I’m still scared about putting fingers to a keyboard. I’ve had many people tell me recently I should try writing. They claim I have a flair for it. But that’s family and they’re biased, right?

    The other present chemo left me was memory issues. I’ll have the perfect idea at 2:00 am, write down notes on a pad by my bed, and zero recollection of what it meant.

    Reading this blog has sparked something in me, Anne. Thanks. I have this feeling inside me I’m being shown something, but I’m just not there yet.

    But I’m proud of myself for recognizing it’s there. 🙂

    Thank you for reading my extremely verbose post.

  16. Bea says:

    I’m proud of myself for listing my political views on facebook even though they’re different from my family’s.

    I’m proud that I left a PhD program that wasn’t right for me to pursue my calling of being a teacher…that I found a way into a teaching certification program, paid my own tuition for a while, and found myself a scholarship. That I married someone who supports this field.

    I’m especially proud to be a student teacher. I’m proud that I was proactive about the judgment-filled environment that education can be and that I got myself set up with some help for anxiety before I entered my first classroom. I’m proud that I’m brave enough to share my ideas with my mentor teacher and that I even disagree with him sometimes (respectfully. And out loud. And without crying!).

    I’m proud that I’m trying to interact with every student…even though I’m not great at it all the time and my introvert self wants to shy away from them in times when I’m not sure what to say. I’m proud that I still go back to talk to them even after they roll their eyes at me. I’m proud that my heart sings when I hear them talk science and see them put their ideas down on paper.

  17. Desiree says:

    I really struggle with this. As a stay at home mom I never feel like I’m accomplishing enough and it doesn’t help that my husband is constantly telling me I don’t do anything. It’s hard to be proud of what I do in the face of negativity. However, I am really proud of my three children, I think I’m raising them well and teaching them to be thoughtful compassionate people.

  18. KristaD. says:

    I’m proud of myself for not giving up on breastfeeding, even when we had lip tie issues and, later, discovered I had to cut all dairy from my diet for her sake ( eczema). I’m proud that even if my baby is petite, she has more than doubled her birth weight and is thriving–and it is all because of me.

    I’m proud that I haven’t given up on exercising even though I still haven’t lost any of the last 20 lbs of baby weight in spite of working out five days a week for the last five months.

    I’m proud that I’m good at my previous career, the one I quit to be a SAHM. So good that they called me three months later to ask if I’d come back part time. I’m proud that the people pleaser in me was able to say no, because it just doesn’t fit into our life right now.

  19. Arati says:

    It’s always a difficult thing to promote yourself and to be proud of the work that you do… too many artists I know do such beautiful work but are self-deprecating and cannot bear the thought of saying they are proud of their work. So sad. They should be. It is glorious.

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