Modesty is soo passee


Hello, my name is Mariella and I am a modest introvert.
Lately I really do feel like I have to apologize more and more for being modest - It wouldn't be a bad idea to have a modest innie support group, now that I think of it -  Especially in the fast-paced  Dutch society where fast talkers and big ego's rule the world, I'm feeling this pressure more and more.
When I first moved to the Netherlands, I had a hard time adjusting. You're too modest, you need to be more assertive. These were things that I heard constantly throughout university (outraging to me at the time, because personally I think that when you're grading my physics project my personality is none of your business. But maybe that's just me). The most upsetting thing was that this basically abolished everything I had learned for the first half of my life! Growing up in Suriname a lady had to be modest, respectful, polite. Is this really old-fashioned? I wouldn't say I had an old-fashioned upbringing by any means. My parents did send me off to study abroad at 18 and my father especially always encouraged me to pursue my studies and to become financially independent (don't depend on any man, as he put it :P) But is it passee to want this, but still want to stay outside of the spotlights?
Those that know me well, know that I am terrible at selling myself. The question I dread mostly during parties is: So, what do you do? This question is usually met by an audible sigh form my end followed by a science-terminology riddled explanation about motor proteins and neurons (translation: brain cells) and usually ends in a glassy expression on the face of the people I'm talking to and an awkward silence.. After being in science for so long, I've forgotten how to talk to normal people.. When it comes to art I'm equally bad. First off when people ask what kind of art I make my first response is: oh, I make all sorts of things. Which of course is a stupid thing to say, but that is kinda what I do (right? :-| )
Just yesterday I was at the fabric market in Utrecht. I loved it! It's been a while since I've been to a real fabric market and I went nuts! I ran back and forth along that street trying to decide what to get :D Finally I got three amazing fabrics, I'll be posting projects with these over the next weeks! Anyway. I was striking up casual conversation with people at the market (well, actually, they were striking up conversation with me) and this nice lady at some point asked: Do you sew well? And I said: Well, I try.. You know, I'm still learning, bla bla bla. And this while I was carrying the shopper I finished just last week and I'm super proud of it! On the way back I started yelling at myself. What's wrong with you! What I SHOULD have said was: Well, I did make this bag myself, oh yes, it's made of recycled plastic bags! And then bla bla bla! 
It really makes me wonder. In our fast-paced world today filled with social media, personal branding and all-round visibility, is there no place left for modesty? When the general consensus is that you don't just get jobs but you take jobs, is it still an option to linger in the background?


RaoulF (not verified) - Sun, 06/07/2014 - 16:28

No. Well, actually, you're expected to find this weird balance between being modest and being sure of yourself and your capabilities without getting cocky or arrogant. I stryggle with the same thing, but tend to seem a bit arrogant apparently (he, I am the fat kid, I needed to get past that by realizing I am awesone, deal with it world.

I am convinced that this weird asian upbringing we had for some reason (gotta be the best / you're never really good enough) has something to do with this, but hey, it got us to where we are..

You should really start realizing that in terms of education, development, talent, and, most important, seizing the opportunities given to you (which is what seperates the succesful people from the rest) and having worked extremely hard to get where you were, you are allowed to be just as proud of yourself as I am proud of you.

Mar - Tue, 08/07/2014 - 10:41

You're right, we all need to find this balance and it's a tricky thing! I'm still working on it :) Thank you big brother, I was really touched by your words.. XX
And yes you are awesome. (But maybe you don't have to remind other people of this all the time;)) 

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