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June 9, 2021

The World is Gaslighting our Accomplishments: Recognizing our Achievements is not Narcissistic.


I spent the majority of my life downsizing every f*cking amazing thing I’ve ever accomplished, including my efforts.

I can remember the exact moment I was forced to feel bad for being proud. I was in elementary school. A friend from school invited me over to play.

We had planned to hang out with her neighbors to play soccer. We lived in the city, so our parents would block off the street from any cars entering in order for us to use it as a playground.

I was super excited because I was a pretty good street soccer player. I was going to show my friend how good I was. I was planning to win that game. I spent hours practicing, so I was ready to play hard.

I was picked as the goalie. I stood in front of the net, catching every ball that flew my way. I was on fire. At some point, the kids looked at me strangely. I wasn’t sure what I had done. I was kicking butt for my team.

I turned around and realized one of the older girls on the other team was standing behind me.

She now had glasses on which she originally didn’t when I first met her. She was mimicking every move I made, including now wearing glasses like me. She was so into it that she didn’t see me staring at her.

She paused mid-motion, called me a show-off, and laughed at me. It caused a fit of laughter from everyone in the street. I played the rest of the game, keeping my mad soccer skills to myself.

After that, I kept to myself. I wouldn’t share my efforts or accomplishments with anyone for fear I might come off as a show-off.

We were just kids back then. Surely that didn’t happen as adults, right?

Just a few weeks ago, I took a writing masterclass. The instructor shared a writing prompt to write whatever came to our mind for 10 minutes, and whoever wanted to share could.

After deciding to speak up and share with the group, it came out of me:

“It’s just some writing; please don’t have expectations,” I said laughing nervously.

Like verbal vomit, like a part of me didn’t believe it and didn’t feel like saying that, but another part thought it was necessary that I did.

All the words pushed through my throat and then exited my mouth forcefully. Those words tasted like ginger, bitter with a punch of fire.

It felt as if I had stabbed myself with sharp guilt in the middle of my stomach. Why are we so afraid of what others would think? Why do we feel the need to minimize our greatness?

Instead of recognizing my bravery and how much came through my mind during the writing prompt, accepting it was amazing because it was genuine and I did my best, I belittled my effort yet again.

We are encouraged to believe in ourselves.

You can do it.

I believe in you.

You have what it takes.

Among other canned and precooked advice that we give away like free candy.

But once we embrace who we are and feel it in our skin, we are then made to believe we are full of ourselves. We are also told that not everything is about us. Talk about a catch-22.

It feels like living under the idea that we should aim for an A on our grades, but if you get an A-plus and feel proud, then you are a show-off, then you remind the rest of the class they didn’t get an A.

Recognizing our value doesn’t mean diminishing someone else’s—let’s get this right.

It feels as though the world is gaslighting our accomplishments. F*ck this. I’m not playing this game anymore. It is not narcissistic to honor our achievements. It is human.

We should be able to share who we are with the world without worry or fear of what the world will think of us. We should be able to shout it out on social media without worry that someone will be thinking or even saying, “Oh, look at the show-off.”

This includes not receiving a response from the world after we have shouted out our accomplishments. We still hear the whisper of show-off without actually hearing the words.

It’s not showing off. It’s showing up.

We are showing our loved ones how proud we are of ourselves, and sharing means including others in this success.

Showing up for ourselves opens the space for:


It feels amazing to see the responses to what we do.

It confirms we are able to touch someone’s heart or someone’s day without physically being there. We want to be heard, and it makes us feel brave.

“Nothing makes my heart fuller like knowing my words made someone else smile.” ~ Unknown


To be brave is showing the world that we are ready to face and endure danger or pain.

It takes courage to show the world who we are and to be proud of it. It takes guts to put ourselves out there for the world to see, knowing full well that the world can rip us apart in a matter of seconds.

“The purpose is bigger than the fear of being exposed to someone else’s judgment.” ~ Unknown


Appreciating all we have accomplished is a true form of self-love.

It’s an important part of self-love. We are telling ourselves that we are proud of ourselves for our hard work. We are recognizing ourselves.

“Imagine the person you love the most in this world, picture them sharing with you something that they gave their heart to, and cheer for you as you would for them. With love and compassion.” ~ Unknown


Announcing to the world something great that we accomplished doesn’t take away from being humble.

We are not bragging when we recognize our accomplishments. Dismissing what we have achieved is absurd.

“A humble heart is a loving heart. A loving heart accepts fully who we are. Our light, and our darkness.” ~ Unknown


I feel it with writing. Sitting down, opening our hearts, and wondering how my experience can be of benefit to others.

We submit it and share it. We are willing to be seen naked, with our opinions, our fears, our loves, and everything others might not agree with. After hitting the submit button, we might wonder if anyone will consider this useful, inspiring, or at least give someone a smile.

“I am not afraid of being human. I am afraid of pretending I am not.” ~ Unknown

Are we supposed to wait to be recognized by others in order for it to be okay to feel accomplished?

If that is the case, we are only achieving greatness for the approval of others and not to feel ourselves fully.

As much as we should be proud of our accomplishments, we do want the world to be happy for us without judgment. Focusing on results and praise, we can forget to feel the process, to see that growth happens in the doing, the sharing, and trying our best.

There is nothing wrong with seeing recognition and success and wanting the same. But we all have different paths, different experiences, and we don’t really know every little step that person took to be where they are.

Next time you feel someone is too much, look at all the purpose behind someone’s work beyond what it feels like to you.

We are all meant to shine. We should encourage, praise, and support those people who are brave enough to try and succeed.

There is light for all of us, and we don’t need to stay hidden so others can come out. We can come out, lead our lives, and extend a hand so we can all walk together.

Stop hiding and playing small; the world needs to hear us roar.

Be loud. Be bold.

We are worthy. We are ready. We are f*cking amazing just as we are.


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author: Michelle Gutierrez & Sharon DeNofa

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