Party of one

When I killed it with the execution of a perfect symposium at work, I immediately wanted to go out for a drink with a girlfriend. When a friend of mine recently rocked it at work, she was roaring to share her success with friends, too. Women like to be acknowledged for their accomplishments.

It’s not because we need to be applauded by an audience. We don’t need a grand show of support, but it is in our nature to look for approval. Growing up, girls learn how important it is to have friends, maintain friendships, be a person who attracts other people. Girls learn to play in groups; that to have fun, they must share and be included. As girls grow up, they learn achievement means inclusion and the acceptance of their social group. If it isn’t a group activity, your own success can at least be shared with the group, and if it’s not accepted, it’s almost as if it doesn’t count.

On the other hand, boys often parallel play. They don’t need to be in a group to achieve or to feel as though their achievements are valid. Boys compete regularly, they take personal pride easily, without needing the acknowledgement of those they have just beaten. They are taught to know easily the accomplishments they have achieved.

So, all grown up, as women, we immediately look to share our accomplishments, for validation that they do truly count; that they are as great as we believe they are. We are still playing with our group of friends, looking for confirmation that we’re included. We do not trust in our own judgments of what we have done. It needs to be another person to say “Nice job!” We were there, we know it was a nice job; but it’s hearing another person say it that suddenly makes it real to us; the external validation we’ve learned to seek.

If only girls were taught as boys to believe our own eyes and ears when it comes to success. Instead, there’s a learning cuve for women where our own opinion of ourselves is concerned. Learning how to celebrate, party of one, is the accomplishment that finally needs no acknowledgement.

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