When I was in primary school we had to write a story to submit to a local literacy festival. The instructions were to put a “new cultural spin” on a classic fairytale and I chose to write an Australian version of Hansel and Gretel.
Not long after, I found myself at the literacy festival night where my my Hansel and Gretel story won two awards.
And I know I should of been proud — and I was — but mostly I just found the whole thing embarrassing.
I didn’t want to be recognised or acknowledged for my work. I didn’t want to have to get up in front of a room full of people and accept the awards. I didn’t want to be seen in this way. And I didn’t want people to think that I thought that I was a “big deal”.
I remember my teachers and classmates congratulating me and I didn’t know what to say. I had to read my story aloud to my class and then again in front of the entire school at an assembly (which was mortifying).
Even though I liked my story and felt proud that others did too, I didn’t want anyone to make a big deal out of it. And the only part of this experience that I was happy about was getting a gift voucher to spend at a local book store.
When I look back on this I mostly remember feeling embarrassed that everyone around me was making a “big deal” about it all.
Ever since I can remember I’ve disliked being recognised, acknowledged and “seen” for the things I’ve done.
Even though I get satisfaction out of achieving things and I’m proud of myself when I accomplish something, I find it difficult when others acknowledge me for these things, especially in a public way.
Recently, I was nominated for two coaching awards in the Beautiful You Coaching Academy Awards: Emerging Coach of the Year and the CEO Shine Award.
This has been my greatest achievement and one of my most proudest moments since becoming a coach. To be nominated alongside so many people I admire was such an honour and something I felt was very special.
However, this experience has really brought to light how I react to being seen and recognised for things. In particular, how I downplay my achievements to those around me.
After sharing the news of my nominations on Facebook, people outside the coaching industry started asking me about the nominations and congratulating me. I told them, “Oh, it’s not a big deal.”
My Mum was going to be interstate on the awards night and told me she was disappointed that she couldn’t come. I told her, “Don’t worry about it, it’s not like it’s a big deal.”
Even a couple of weeks ago as I was strolling the beach with one of my closest friends talking about the upcoming awards night I found myself once again downplaying it. I told her, “It’s not really a big deal.”
And it feels uncomfortable to share this and I’m kinda embarrassed to admit this, but I often do downplay my achievements to everyone around me.
Even though I was — and am — proud about these nominations, I still downplayed this achievement at every opportunity and wouldn’t allow others to acknowledge me for it.
And it made me realise that this isn’t a one-off thing — I often do this with anything I do or anything I achieve.
Ever since my Hansel and Gretel story (and probably long before that too), “it’s not a big deal” is often my default response whenever people acknowledge me for something.
So this is something I’ve been working on ever since I had this realisation.
I’ve been challenging myself to resist the urge to downplay when someone acknowledges me or congratulates me on something (“It’s not a big deal.”) and instead I say “thank you” and mean it.
Because I know when I acknowledge someone for the things they do I want them to believe it and accept it — and I want to celebrate it with them. As Alexandra Franzen said, “Be happy. Be proud. And let us be happy with you.”
I really don’t want to downplay the things I do anymore. And I don’t want to stop others from being happy with me either.
The things you do, the things you achieve, the things you are proud of — all of it — are a big deal.
Allow yourself to be proud and celebrate — because it is a big deal.
Allow others to acknowledge and congratulate you — because it is a big deal.
Stop downplaying your achievements.
Because it IS a big deal.
Do you often downplay your achievements too? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below with a response to this:
What’s something you’ve done / achieved / made happened recently that you’re really proud of?
Share away in the comments. I’d love to celebrate you and what you’ve accomplished!
I hope after you finish reading this you remember that the things you accomplish are a big deal and you allow yourself to be acknowledged for them.
Love & Gratitude,
PS. I’ve written more about the BYCA Awards Night here, including my reflections, gratitude and photos from the celebratory evening.
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