We [women] hold ourselves back in ways both big and small, by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands, and by pulling back when we should be leaning in. We internalize the negative messages we get throughout our lives—the messages that say it’s wrong to be outspoken, aggressive, more powerful than men.And later she adds, "Career progression often depends upon taking risks and advocating for oneself—traits that girls are discouraged from exhibiting."
Oh lord do I need these messages right now. To put it simply, I'm currently in the midst of a big batch of self doubt. You see, I recently took a big risk. Yay, first steps. This professional risk is beyond anything I've done before and it means that my career path has recently become much more challenging. I'm out of my comfort zone and just sort of figuring things out as I go.
So, cue the nagging of self doubt and anxiety.
It's so cliche, but a huge part of success really is believing in yourself, so thanks to Sandberg for this reminder. There is something to the old adages of "fake it until you make it" and "you can achieve anything your put your mind to!" Learning this lesson is particularly important for women and girls, some of whom might be their only supporter. I mean, just as an example that comes easily to mind, I recently received an ask on my Tumblr from a young woman who is regularly told by her uncle that she'll never make it in sports journalism, her dream career. If she internalizes this message and doesn't believe she can make it anyway, how will she ever stand a chance? She's got to invest in herself and block out the noise to make that dream happen.
Even for those of us who have lots of support and affirmation (myself included) the most important source of our strength still must come from within. If we don't take time to love, value, and support ourselves, we'll get nowhere. We've got to block out the nagging voices from the outside but also from ourselves that make us feel inadequate and hold us back. We've got to take those creative risks Sandberg is talking about, put ourselves out there, and push ourselves. And when we are successful, we can't believe the voices that tell us that we shouldn't toot our own horns or be proud of our accomplishments.
Like I said, this is all a bit preemptive, and I'll follow up with a review of Lean In later when I've actually read it. But damn if I didn't just need to take a moment to reflect on this, no matter how fluffy a message it might be.
EDITED 5/14/13: I just wanted to follow up and note that I've decided not to fully review the book because overall I was disappointed with it. I think it got a lot of media hype because of who Sandberg is and as I was reading I kept thinking, "where's the part that supposed to change my life?" Spoiler: it never came. I'm sure it's a good primer for a white, upper class, hetero, professional woman who have never taken gender studies classes, but for people outside that group, it will probably fall flat (like it did for me.) That's not to say I wasn't inspired by a reminder to believe in myself when I wrote this...it just didn't go much beyond that.
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