Yesterday was International Women’s Day. In my home country, this day is celebrated with appropriate pomp: women get flowers, chocolates, they get acknowledged at work, in school, at home, etc. In America, this day is not even marked on the calendar. It simply does not exist. And when someone brings it up, they get odd looks, condescending smirks, and a brush-off.
Yesterday, I somehow stumbled upon a bunch of TED Talk videos on YouTube on various topics pertaining to women. I was fascinated by these, and spent a good few hours watching them. Many of those messages rang so true for me personally and for what I observe around me every single day. It seemed like such a revelation that these speakers (all of them women) finally managed to put it into the right words, but at the same time it was almost insulting that it had to be put into words for people to acknowledge that it’s real, and it’s happening, and it’s having a massive impact on women all around the world.
Yesterday, one of my Facebook friends wrote a post about how difficult it is to share one’s pride in a personal accomplishment, because it inevitably gets met with a negative response. I had another small revelation while reading that post. It’s true. We’ve become a society where we shower sympathy and attention on people who struggle, who meet with tragedy, who are having a hard time, and somehow take it as a personal insult when people share their achievements, as if those achievements somehow reflect badly on us. Women especially have a hard time with this. Because women are taught to be the peace keepers, not the competitors. They are taught to be quiet, and humble, and inclusive, rather than brave, entrepreneurial, and confident. A confident woman is seen as vain, proud, intimidating, and unattractive.
Part of why I struggle so much with book promotion is that it necessitates a level of confidence and extraversion that I simply don’t possess. I don’t know how to brag about myself, and even when I try, I always end up doing it in a joking, self-deprecating way. Case in point:
This is my attempt at celebrating my achievements. The note says:
This is an Alianne Donnelly book published by Alianne Donnelly.
It’s not bragging if it’s true.
It is printed on the copyright page of every one of my new IngramSpark books. I wanted to do something to acknowledge how much freaking work I did on those books. Those are my books from start to finish. I wrote them. I formatted them. I designed the covers. I set them up on IngramSpark and published them. The only things I didn’t do were the editing and the actual printing/binding/shipping of the physical copies*. The rest is all me.
Eight books I created this way. Eight of them. In a span of three months. That is a massive undertaking, and a huge achievement more confident people would be trumpeting to the stars.
Me? I shared a few posts outlining the workflow, and printed a short little note on the copyright page, which no one except a hardcore bibliophile ever reads.
No, I don’t like to brag. In fact, I hate being the center of attention for any reason. I’m a behind-the-scenes kind of person. I keep the wheels spinning, and let someone else stand out on stage. I’m often overlooked, underestimated, undervalued, or flat-out ignored, and 99% of the time, it doesn’t bother me.
I know that I’m accomplished, and very much capable and, when it comes to this writing and publishing business, I know I can put out a hell of a book. I know, because I’ve already done it. And I know I can do it again.
But saying it out loud still feels wrong. It feels like I’m bragging, and even I argue with myself that all the things I consider awesome are completely subjective, and people will still find fault with them. That stupid doubt laughs at me and say that if I was really that awesome, I would be much farther along by now. I hate that internal voice, because it’s right. It’s the reason I sometimes get writer’s block so bad I don’t write a word for months.
It’s also the reason why I keep going, keep learning, keep improving on everything I do. Yes, the finish line keeps getting pushed farther and farther, but I’m stubborn as hell, and I cling like crazy to the one thing that makes the struggle worth it: the stories.
So, today, belatedly, I celebrate International Women’s Day by proclaiming to the world at large that I am one woman strong. My achievements are real, and tangible, and freaking awesome. They are my contribution to the world and I am proud of them.
*Though, ironically, I have done that, too, for unrelated reasons and projects at my day job.