Dreaming or Deflecting?

Why, oh why, do I put my ideas in writing?

Well, I know why.

Because, among other things, going ‘on record' pushes me to ‘walk my talk'.

It is ironic, though, that not less than twenty-four hours after writing Asking for What We Want, I read Matt Langdon's post in which he outlined his Hero Workshop accomplishments for 2007 and goals for 2008 (you can either squint or click on the graphic).


My immediate thought was “Good for you Matt”. You've set concrete, achievable goals for yourself, goals that will make the world a better place. You've achieved them, and now you are setting more goals.

I considered following Matt's lead and putting my goals for ‘dare to dream' on this blog, but immediately quailed. The mere thought of doing what Matt had done made me feel uncomfortable, awkward, embarrassed — did I say uncomfortable?

Which led me to wonder — what is GOING on?

Why am I having a such a visceral reaction?

Here's what I've come up with thus far, though more questions, than answers:

1) When we list our accomplishments publicly, aren't we making the decision to acknowledge ourselves, to accept, rather than shun praise?

2) When we state our goals, are we not implicitly, if not explicitly, asking for support?

3) When men ‘list and state', how do they feel? How do we respond?

4) What about women? How do we feel? And do we respond as I did to Matt, thinking “Atta boy or girl”? Or do we instead think — ‘she's a bit full of herself, now isn't she?'

I'll confess that even amongst my closest friends it's painful to say ‘Look what I did,” and so I don't very often. In fact, if you want to see just how masterful most women have become at deflecting (a signal at just how painful the praise is), the next time you are talking with a group of your girlfriends — ask them to talk about something they (not their husband or children) have done well this past year.

That's right – we probably won't; we will quickly and deftly re-direct the conversation far, far away from us.

The ideal of a feminine woman seems pretty hard-wired.

Does it feel this way to you also?

If this is true, then aren't we in a bit of a double bind?

Related posts:

Asking for What We Want
Second Thoughts on Psyche's 2nd Task
Leah Leaves the Building
Et tu, Whitney?
Now the News: Couric Still Isn't One of the Boys

Asking for What We Want

About a week before Christmas, my daughter Miranda asked me if the two of us could go see The Nutcracker.

She seems to want more mom-daughter time of late. Perhaps because she's getting older, perhaps because she feels ‘work time' is displacing ‘mom time'. (My friend Stacey has encouraged me me to share the challenges of my recent on-ramping. There are many; one day I'll go into more detail.)

For now, it's enough to know that one of the challenges is — my children liked having mom around more, and now that I'm around less, they miss me. So I wasn't all that surprised that Miranda suggested a girls' night out.


What did surprise me was her ability to articulate so easily what she wanted. Because — I just don't know that many women (including myself) who ask for what we want all that well.

Think about it.

When was the last time that a woman you know (or you yourself) asked simply and directly for something?

No martyrdom, no manipulation, etc., etc, — just stated their want (without making it a need) and asked.

That's what I thought.

In Anna Fels' article titled Do Women Lack Ambition?, she writes that our cultural ideals of femininity do not include women asking for resources, whether those resources involve time, money, praise. If we do ask, we feel selfish, and others are likely to believe us to be selfish as well.

This Christmas there were many lovely gifts given and received (including my Blackberry Curve), but taking Miranda to see The Nutcracker (as my mother did me), and hearing her ask for this outing, without even a nanosecond's worry that she would be jeopardizing her femininity, was without a doubt, among the best gifts.

When was the last time that you were direct about what you wanted? For example, just today, when I wanted something I'd left in the car, instead of asking my husband, “Will you go out to the car and get me x”, I said “Are you going out to the car?”

Do you know an adult woman who ask for what she wants — and gets it? What can we learn from her?

What can we do to encourage our daughters to continue asking, and believing they'll receive?


P.S. Is this one happy girl or what?

Related posts:

Rachel vs. Leah: Reclaiming the Power to Dream
Throw Down Your Pom-Poms and Get in the Game
Psyche's 3rd Task: Fill the Flask
Commentary – For Girls, It’s Be Yourself, and Be Perfect Too
Psyche and Choice

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