Are you over — or under-confident?

By Caitlin Kelly

Have you seen the Dove ad everyone is talking about?

David Brooks, a conservative columnist in the liberal New York Times, asks four related questions in today’s column:

My perception in college was that more men were seminar baboons — dominating the discussions whether they had done the reading or not. But now, when I visit college classes, the women seem just as assertive as the men.

But I’m not sure that this classroom assertiveness carries out into the world of work, or today’s family and friendship roles. And I’m not sure we’ve achieved parity when it comes to elemental confidence. When you read diaries of women born a century or centuries ago, you sometimes see
them harboring doubts about their own essential importance, assumptions that they are to play a secondary role on earth, and feelings that their identity is dependent on someone else. How much does that mind-set linger?

….how do you combine the self-critical ability to recognize your limitations with the majestic confidence required to struggle against them? I guess I’m asking how to marry self-criticism and self-assertion, a blend our society is inarticulate about. I guess I’m wondering, as we make this blend, whether most of us need more of the stereotypically female trait of self-doubt or the stereotypically male trait of self-promotion.

I’ve blogged about this issue many times — here, here and here, on why men seem happier to blog more than women.

Brooks is not a stupid man, but, dude seriously?

Women harbor doubts about their own essential importance, single or not, child-free or not, because so much of our value is placed on other people’s firm and fixed beliefs that we are still at our best when:

– safely neutered/married

— mothers

— silent

— earning less

— far from corporate power (like C-suites and boards of directors)

— absent from political seats of power

— polite, quiet, obedient, quick to defer to male authority

Women’s putative (or real) lack of self-confidence also fuels billion-dollar industries: fashion, cosmetics, plastic surgery, diet foods and methods, many of which focus on our external appearance, not the intelligence, drive, ambition and people skills we also need consistently and in abundance to succeed, certainly in any competitive professional setting.

It's not that hard to say no
It’s not that hard to say no (Photo credit: cheerfulmonk)

I recently saw a perfect example of this difference. I met a man, a bit younger than I, when we were both honored with the task of judging a journalism award. Within minutes of meeting me, he felt the urge to tell me he had earned more than $100,000 in his last magazine job and now had two $8,000 writing assignments at the same time.

Really? I needed to know this?

More like he really felt the need to fan his gleaming little peacock tail before me.

The Pulitzer Prize gold medal award 한국어: 퓰리처상 ...
The Pulitzer Prize gold medal award 한국어: 퓰리처상 공공 보도 부문 상인 금메달 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My husband has a Pulitzer prize, a fact I am too happy to tell people, while he (bless him) never mentions it. I have a National Magazine award and two well-reviewed non-fiction books, and hundreds of published articles, to my name. Whatev!

And yet…..and yet…In the United States, modesty is a career-threatening approach. Blowhards like Mr. $$$$$$ above seem to be the ones winning the brass rings.

If I choose to keep my mouth shut about my many accomplishments, it’s a choice of being modest — not a lack of self-confidence!

And women who peacock are often treated as pariahs, by men who find them threatening and women who often loathe them for proudly speaking out when they’re too damn scared to do the same.

I’ve lived this issue since my teens, when I sold a photo of mine to my high school and began writing for national publications at 19, neither of which could have happened without a shitload of self-confidence.

How about you?

How do you balance these two things in your own life?

63 thoughts on “Are you over — or under-confident?

  1. I read that article, thought “meh, what the $%&8 does HE know”.

    And it certainly is a double edged sword, as you’re damned if you do or damned if you don’t. I don’t think self-confidence, or lack of, is unique to either gender. Men perhaps express it in different ways, but by and large both genders have their own share of Diva’s and Baboons.

    I am by no means the beater of MY own drum – I am modest and often lack confidence in my own abilities…yet, sometimes I just choose to keep them to myself. I can’t stand blow-hards and those know-it-all-have-it-all sorts…in my experience, if I need to be told by them of their accomplishments, perhaps they are not so “accomplished”.

  2. While I was in college, replacing my philosophical classes with the more English and literature-geared classes, I was regularly embarrassed by the parochial nature of my contributions to discussion.
    For example, an audience of classmates in a SF class studying Philip K. Dick can be as diverse in gender and educational background as they are unforgiving of intellectual indulgence. I’m still trying to understand how to help carry a discussion while respecting the limits of my putative relevance.
    Thank you for your thorough post!

    1. It’s true….better to stay silent and be thought a fool than speak and remove all doubt…

      BUT. Every time we speak up and out (even if what we say lacks depth or insight and if it’s THAT bad, we don’t)…we take a risk. We also model that behavior for shy women and men who are terrified of speaking up. I served on a 15 member volunteer board of writers (including two Phds) for six years. I often saw that I’d speak out first and others would nod or agree…but wouldn’t do it first! 🙂

  3. Indeed! Brooks’ column already has 198 comments…I don’t have time right now to read them but I hope many women are slapping his wrist.

    My husband has seen this in photo-world as well. The guys who swan and preen are usually newbies but the quiet ones always get the best shot, and shut the hell up about it!

  4. Well, I kind of have to parrot about my work. That’s how I sell my work. But I know many women,l thank God, who are asseritve, in positions of power and aren’t afraid to tell men when they are wrong. My boss is a woman. her boss is a woman, and my mom’s a rabbi who is not afraid to give her ex-husband a talking-to when he’s wrong. They are all great examples in my life.

  5. My English studies ended with an honours thesis about portrayals of ‘madwomen’ in literature. The insane asylum was a very real, terrifying possibility for women who went against the grain and tried to live beyond the limits of social parameters. It seems like such a sad, misguided understatement for Brooks to write “When you read diaries of women born a century or centuries ago, you sometimes see them harboring doubts….”

    Really? This is like suggesting that racism has never been THAT big of a deal, I mean, everything’s been fine since the 1960s, right? (sarcasm alert)

  6. themodernidiot

    I don’t see external factors as a basis for how I feel. I may doubt my judgment from time to time if I haven’t had the chance to weigh all options fully, or I made a rash decision because I was wicked p*ssed, and besides they totally deserved it…

    …but I digress.

    I understand the need to focus on external factors and their problematic influence, but at the end of my day, they are irrelevant: it’s called SELF-doubt for a reason. We do it to ourselves. Shifting blame doesn’t work.

    No one can convince me of my worth because only I can make that determination. Not anyone else, just me. Besides, I’m pretty sure I have the best vantage point to see how I’m doing.

    Self-doubt is a by-product of not paying attention to (or denying) one’s true self.

    I found that knowledge and indifference are essential to preventing self-doubt. As long as I educate myself on the ‘task’ at hand, and remain open to learning more, I’ve done all that I am required to do. No one else’s opinion changes that I am awesome for doing my very best. THEY didn’t do anything but judge me, why should I care what they think?

    That’s the best part of indifference, it’s liberating. if you aren’t confined by other people’s intentions, you are free to do what you want. care less, do more, enjoy always.

    I am the one who speaks for me, I am the one responsible for what my body does, MY belief system is what motivates my decisions. Why should I need external validation, which is not real anyway? External validation contradicts SELF-image, which negates its validity with regard to personal vision.

    Self-doubt is a waste of time, an empty-calorie meal that slows us down. Who’s got time to do things the hard way?

    1. In theory, yes. In reality…?

      Then what do you do with/make of criticism or feedback that is anything less than positive? Dismiss it as simply at odds with your own self-image?

      I’d rather (however unpleasant) get feedback from someone about to ditch me as a client or friend before they do so to decide if their feedback is something I can work with. I may be confident, but it doesn’t mean I’m always right!

  7. themodernidiot

    Feedback is just positive or negative (as in additive vs. subtractive; the other negative is just someone’s bad hair day I don’t have time for) knowledge.

    My self-image depends on my confidence in what I know, or openness to new ideas.

    Criticism is the same as feedback excepting that feedback can also be neutral. Criticism is positive or negative.

    Criticism is a term that we equate with feeling bad, for a few reasons: we are not open to change, and so internalize it as a negative self-view; it IS someone else’s baseless and shitty opinion, and we choose to internalize it as a negative self-view; we only hear what affirms our self-built, skewed self-perceptions, and we choose to internalize it as a negative self-view. See a pattern here? What we choose to build with determines how strong our building will be.

    If you tell me, “Hey that piece sucked.” I will concede it very well might! This way I can benefit from your knowledge of WHY it sucked. I trust your skills, for I have seen them. If you said it just to demean me, then sod off. Go read something else. Your intent determines my reaction, but my reaction is not dependent on your opinion.

    Now, say I’m building a deck and using the wrong screws, which means the structure will collapse after a year. Say my neighbor walks by and points out that I am using the wrong screws, and why. This is not judgment on his part, it’s fact. How do you get mad at facts? How is not knowing something a character flaw? It isn’t. There will always be something you do not know. There is always someone smarter. There is always someone dumber. It’s human diversity with limited, cerebral functioning. We’re not in competition that way. Our competition should be to out-help each other, but that’s another rant.

    Now, say I’m building another deck (I’m good at by now), and someone says, “Hey that’s ugly.” What would be the purpose in caring about that statement? I chose the color, the wood, the design, all by my lonesome without this person’s help, and I was satisfied with my choices enough to invest money and time into the project. Again, this person wasn’t part of the process from vision to fruition, so where does his opinion fit in, exactly? Oh yeah, it doesn’t, “Whatever dude, don’t look at it.”

    Don’t read it, don’t eat it, don’t wear it, don’t buy it, don’t drive it, don’t watch it, don’t live in it, or fuck it. Not my problem. I have my own shit to do.

    I see things (people) as either helpers, or obstacles. Guess whose building materials I use 🙂

    1. It’s interesting stuff to think about.

      I come from a long line of people who spent a lot of energy telling me very unpleasant things about myself (many of which, even as a kid) I knew were BS and their own projections and insecurities. I had a huge and very nasty encounter a few months ago again with one of them and it really left me shaken….because once you’ve been told a million times you SUCK (by people who, arguably, know you fairly well) it’s hard to shut your ears. Which I now mostly do.

      I agree that it very much depends on the source and their intent. Some people (esp. in my hyper-competitive and insecure biz) are just so fucking nasty the stuff they will say to your face can take your breath away. Even though you laugh it off, then and later, it’s still shit you have to scrape off. Gah. I stay far away from many people who do what I do for a living for this reason.

      “Your intent determines my reaction, but my reaction is not dependent on your opinion.”

      I keep getting my head handed to me “because I love you.” Um, yeah. Really?

      1. themodernidiot

        Haha yeah, I don’t envy the cut-throat of your world. It takes some serious spine to navigate it.

        I totally feel you when it comes to being fed BS from people who need to tear you down to build themselves up. When I figured out that was their real intent, I found it a lot easier to discard the garbage and use their words to either strengthen, or dissolve the relationship.

        The recipe to dissolving relationships is easy to remember: a cup of ‘whatever,’ a cup of ‘screw you,’ and a cup of ‘stfu.’ Mix and serve cold.

        The ‘because I love you’ thing is poo, agreed. If criticism requires a qualifier like that, then it’s clearly not constructive, and I can discount it.

        I got lucky in two things:
        I have an awesome mom whom I trust. She’s not a liar, so I always had a solid benchmark for judging other people. Mom is bluntly honest, and there is a comforting certainty in that. She says I’m awesome, she doesn’t lie, therefore I am awesome.

        I was also raised to be independent and humble. I don’t need help, but I don’t have trouble asking for it. This has helped me form my worldview into something more useful.

        It taught me that focusing on myself doesn’t do a lot of good. If my behavior and decision answers the following: does it further my goal? does my goal serve my needs while benefiting others?, then my internal confidences will grow.

      2. There’s the old standby — is it kind? is is truthful? is it helpful?

        If not, in my view, STFU.

        I’ve been beaten (verbally) by people who love to tell me the “truth” when it’s actually their fucked-up and really negative perception of me. My parents are charming, bright, talented people. Not wildly nurturing. 🙂

        My husband (who did not grow up surrounded by this shit) is very helpful at deciphering this and making sure I don’t keep falling down that rabbit hole. But it looks so familiar.

      3. themodernidiot

        That’s a heckuva hill to have climbed. Remember how much personal awesome it took to reach that altitude next time your surrounded by soul suckers 🙂

        Thanks for letting me throw in my two cents. This was a great subject, and your post does so much good by informing us of the many manipulations we can so easily succumb to. Very helpful.

  8. I am very confident, but it didn’t happen overnight. Achieving self acceptance and confidence has been a work in progress. I honestly think a large hurdle for women is how damn critical we are of each other. “Did you see her hair?” “I can’t believe she’s wearing that.” “She is clearly not qualified for this job.” Once you stop listening to this crap and making your own decisions, life gets much easier. Aging doesn’t hurt.

    1. I’ve been shielded from that a fair bit — I’ve worked at home alone for much of my career and many newsrooms are full of men, so the bitchy thing can’t kick in with as much power. But getting older does free you. At this point, (and for a while), there are few people whose opinion really matters to me, usually husband, clients and friends.

  9. Ah, what a timely post fresh off an interview where I found myself both trying to massage my male interviewer’s ego and tout my own attributes. I left wondering which I did better and if I did myself a disservice by not focusing on myself more! My confidence has definitely grown (esp the past couple of years) but it feels like a never-ending struggle to feel like I belong and to not feel like an idiot/asshole for talking about my talents, attributes and accomplishments.

    I recently heard an NPR interview with Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg, where she talked about initially feeling embarrassed about being ranked #5 on “the world’s 100 most powerful women” by Forbes. Her assistant finally pulled her aside and told her to stop and own it. Being demure, just like it’s opposite (being boastful and confident) has it’s time and place. Perhaps the trick is to determine when and how… or to just be a bulldozer and not care? I’m still trying to figure it out. When to talk, when to shut up.

    1. So true! You had a difficult trick to pull off.

      It’s really hard to know when you’re being too strong or not enough…no matter what the result, you don’t know which worked!

      1. Totally agree. Sometimes I wonder if there actually is a border between too much and much less. Perception differs from one person to another that a universal red flag for “boasting” is even questionable. I don’t even think it’s possible to figure this border out. It’s just not the same for everyone. What I’ve tried though is figuring out the mentality of the person your talking to. From there I just try to gauge when to flip the “confidence” switch on and off.

        Then again, themodernidiot is also right. (the convo was pretty kick ass haha) It could be just me and my mind betraying me. Because unfortunately, I have a horrible reputation for keeping mum. The one I’m talking to doesn’t even have to be male.

        Been working on it one day at a time however. I’d like to think I’m improving. -smiles and fidgets-

      2. Move to New York City! It will surely knock all shyness out of you, stat. I do very poorly in job interviews, (partly having grown up in Canada to the age of 30 where boasting is really declasse), as I am not very good at telling strangers how AMAZING I am. I find it sort of nauseating. But the shit that people will throw at you here to challenge your credentials is…bracing.

        I keep running into a fellow writer (SUCH a bitch), who in 2006 (grudges, moi?) greeted me at a party by saying “Do you still work at the Daily New? I never see your byline.” Like that. Those who wilt and quiver just can’t make it here.

  10. I feel too modest to offer an opinion (ha!). Being a woman of a certain age and growing up and working in Canada in the 70’s, I have stories to tell of how condescending and patriarchal the suits were to the “girls”. A large portion of your life influenced by that? How do you overcome it? One thing I notice on blogs is that the men are often full of themselves – they have no filters or stops to wonder if what they are saying is actually worthwhile and thoughtful. Women are often doubtful and questioning on their blogs, still seeming to be searching for answers to their place in the world and their identities. Just an observation and I try not to generalize but it pops up. I have taken several literature classes lately and notice that even in a class of about 40 women, many are hesitant to speak up, afraid perhaps of being wrong or being noticed.

    1. I also think this must (?) come from one’s family of origin and how you/one were socialized and rewarded. My whole family were freelancers, creative people, crazy confident of their talents, so that just seemed a normal way to be in the world. I’ve never lacked confidence in my skills and abilities, so was selling my work at 19 — in 1978. Even when the art director of Maclean’s magazine (I was a photographer then) told me he would not assign to me because the men had families to feed. WTF?!

      I see the same blowhard tendencies in men everywhere. So you either toot your horn as loudly, or you can be ignored or overlooked.

      The fact is we’re all likely to be “wrong” a few times and what’s wrong with being noticed!? The only thing I fear is a physical attack, maybe because I grew up in such a combative family and spent so much time in boarding school where people had some mighty mean tongues. I can give as good as I get. I hate it that women are so fearful.

  11. I’ve often pondered these ideas about the different ways that men and women behave in the workplace. I am a confident person but I’m not someone who engages in self-promotion but rather choose to let my results prove my worth in the workplace. I know that I have a stellar reputation to uphold and behave accordingly. I’m more likely to doubt the validity of someone telling me how great they are at any particular thing. Who exudes the most confidence and credibility? Someone who constantly needs to be assured that they are the best with recognition and awards? Or someone who quietly and consistently gets it done and just IS the best? I believe it is the latter.

    1. The problem of waiting to be noticed and rewarded — without horn-tooting — is that is often simply does not work. I now make more of a point of telling editors when I get nice emails in response or how hard I worked on a story so they know the results they’re seeing aren’t something I just phoned in easily…Some work environments are better at simply seeing great results, but many are not; you have to TELL people overtly what value you are adding there.

      1. That is true. I do find that I get taken for granted quite a lot and it bothers me from time to time. I thoroughly document all my efforts and report on it weekly to my supervisor. Hopefully the volume and complexity of what I accomplish says quite a lot. I do need to learn how to toot my own horn as well.

  12. justaweirdthought

    I think I am under-confident because there have been innumerable occasions where I remained silent in spite of knowing that I am correct. And I think I am lazy too, because many a times I know I can do something but I choose not to just to avoid the extra efforts. But…yeah I underestimate myself a lot. When I meet people more knowledgeable than me (like you) I think too low of myself. Perhaps it is because so far I have not achieved anything to be really proud of (and I don’t even know how to achieve it). Every time I read about people who struggled, rose up above odds and became great, I feel like a bozo. I am also scared of sharing my work with anyone. I can write pretty well (I think) but I don’t share it with people because I fear they will not like it and will make fun of it (does that count as under-confidence?) Overall, I think I am a flop.

    1. Oh, my. This is not good!

      I went and worked in a low-wage retail job, part-time, for two years. It’s the sort of job people sneer at and dismiss because the pay is shit, the work is hard and boring and it’s considered no-skill to low-skill. As if!!! I learned a lot there…my point is that we’re all good at something (and much better at some things than people who are much better at OTHER things)..if you follow my point? So I might have been, even then, a published author — but others sold a lot better than I did!

      I doubt you’re crappy at everything….so I’d urge you to focus on a few things you’re good at and do a lot of it and your confidence will grow! It might be gardening or skateboarding or whatever….achievement leads to more achievement because you feel so damn good and others admire you (which is pleasant and can be motivating) and might even pay you (which I like!) But you do have to begin by taking the risk of speaking up and out…if people are rude or dismissive, fuck ’em! Really. It’s more about them than you.

      1. justaweirdthought

        Yeah. You are right. I will have to speak out, and believe me I am sick of not being able to do so. And as for not giving a shit to what others say, I think it is gonna be tough for me. I often get stuck on what people say, their words keep echoing in my head and I lose my sleep.
        And I am really thankful to you for sharing all the good things that you do. I always feel positive after reading your posts. God bless. 🙂 🙂

  13. Regardless of how far we think we’ve come, women who engage in peacockery are also usually in for a heaping dose of slut shaming. Why someone always has to make a connection, no matter how tenuous, I can’t say, but this is what I’ve observed.

    Confidence…it’s a struggle to find that balance, and remind myself that it’s okay to do so.

      1. Yeah. I didn’t follow it that closely but she and I are FB friends so I knew about it and read some of it.

        Women are a pathetic bunch in this respect. For fuck’s sake. If they spent 1/1000000000000th the energy wasted in catfights on…I dunno…running for public office or saving the planet or something USEFUL, I’d be all for it.

      2. It’s all absorption of the same old bullshit. If men have “the power” and we want some, then we’d better suck it up and align ourselves with them. No thanks. Hrumph.
        And now I’ve got the opening monologue from “The Rose” playing in my head. Rattle those pots and pans, indeed.

      3. Well, it’s that or (so much more effective) make sure we’re all tearing one another apart — and not focusing on getting as much economic and political power as humanly possible so life is better for ALL of us. Seems obvious to me. 🙂

      4. For me, much of this circles around to a regular theme of mine, respecting choices. Too many of us are so busy on defense, we’ve internalized the concept that the best defense is a good offense.

        I like your idea much better 🙂

      5. It’s such a pathetic waste of time! I recently read a long profile of early feminist Shulamith Firestone and it was sadly illuminating to read that even in those circles the power struggles destroyed a lot of potential progress. INSANE. Truly insane. The damage that ego wreaks on the world is only matched or overpowered by insecurity.

  14. Lori Henderson

    It seems to me that we equate money, power and fame with success too often. The same could be said of influence and control. I loved “Malled” and decided to read the blog. Which I am happy you are writing.

  15. in my head, i’m over confident. i believe i’m writing some fabulous fiction. but i don’t act that way when it comes to pitching to agents. i have a great fear of failure that i’m slowly dissolving.

    1. It’s all in the eye of the beholder.

      A friend of mine had his novel submitted to all the big NYC publishers recently (rejected) and the notes he got were so totally inane. I found it infuriating and it wasn’t even my work.

      1. certainly is a beholder issue. was his submitted through an agent or did he sent it straight to publishers himself? there’s always a mix of opinions on which way to go with that.

      2. What mix of opinions?! No one is going to be read by any editor at any major house without an agent’s representation. If so, I’d love to hear about it.

        There are a VERY few people who self-publish and gather a huge audience and then a Big Publisher comes to scoop up some of the profits.

      3. thanks. that’s what i thought, but i still hear from friends who, unsuccessfully, attempt to submit straight to publishers.

        as for self-pub, i have tried to convince writer-friends to stop wasting time making their own amazon/kindle/nook book and waiting for the public to somehow find it and love it. it won’t happen. i have one friend who literally tweets his own compliments about his self-pub title every five minutes. it’s greatly annoying, and i’ve tried to tell the self-pub people to stop referring to themselves as a “published author” because of a self-pub title. but i guess it makes them feel better.

      4. I assume (?) you are reality-checking by attending writers’ conferences where editors and agents speak? Or reading blogs by people who work in publishing?

        The only people who can discuss this with authority are those who publish books or those who have been published. The rest is fantasy.

      5. completely fantasy, yes, although those self-“published” authors are mad at me for trying to burst their bubble.

        i am reading blogs by authors and agents, and i am fortunate to have a beta-reader who works for a publishing group. she has been reading and help with each chapter. the book is in a third draft, but i have to add one more chapter because the ending was too abrupt.

      6. Anyone who reads this blog knows I am hard-headed, practical and blunt. Publishing is a greasy pole and anyone who says otherwise is lying or has no idea what it’s really like.

        With all due respect, why waste one nanosecond of your precious time and attention on anyone other than those who can help you achieve your goal? All the endless Draaaaaaama of self-publishing is great noise and light, (and more power to those, truly, who succeed.)

        I compare my attitude to that of a carriage horse — every morning I put on my blinders so I can only see a narrow line straight ahead of me. Then I go. (This is not to suggest ignoring other factors and issues but we have very limited time on this earth and distraction is a huge fucking time-suck.)

      7. we had a discussion in your comments about two months ago in which you nicely slapped me with those same blinders, and it’s working out well. i feel much better about what i’m doing, and i am polishing up the end of a book now.

        the time and attention i had given to those into self-publishing was not so much my time as it was theirs. i had written a blog post about the difference between writing for “fun” or writing to actually be a writer. i told my audience that i was done with the humor, the film reviews, the comical horoscopes, etc. and that i would be writing only fiction and working towards being published. i also added what you had told me before and now – “shut up and write.” avoid those time suckers and false accomplishments of self pub. that was insulting to my self-pub friends.

      8. Oooooh, so this is MY fault?! 🙂 Kidding.

        It is truly a no-win to engage writers who have not yet been published and/or who think it’s fun and cute and easy and they will soon be Rich and Famous. More likely broke and bitter…and that is AFTER your book has been commercially published. Seriously, ask around!

        I am most grateful for knowing a lot of writers through my membership in ASJA, who mostly publish non-fiction. We mentor one another and advise one another and share agents and tips. I now have (gah) a 70K word manuscript I’ve been asked to blurb (which is an honor) and I *am* looking forward to it. The most essential tools for successfully getting into print are focus, drive, talent, persistence — and a savvy, tough posse who shoo away all the nay-sayers and silly folk.

        The internet has created a fucking nightmare scenario of people who confuse banging a keyboard and hitting “publish” with being a skilled, interesting, able-to-sell-lots-of-books author. Caveat scriptor. (I hope that is actually Latin!)

      9. it is Latin. it means “shut up and write.” and yes, you are blunt. in this arena, blunt is necessary. it is how you get from A to Z instead of getting stuck between G and F. and thank you very much for lending me your blinders.

  16. I was in Seattle for a couple of weeks in January and am currently in New Mexico (hello from Santa Fe!), and I have noticed the general trend of those in the bigger cities to toot their own horn pretty much the moment you let go on the initial handshake. While not everyone does this, certainly, more people do so here than back where I came from in Australia. It’s bewildering and I have often wondered if it’s as much as intimidation tactic as it is a self-promoting one.

    And I haven’t even been in the big cities like New York or LA. Madness!

    Compared to this, I’m definitely under confident. People ask me what I do and I say “i’m a photographer” and inevitably, they go “what do you shoot?” or “who do you work for?” which has left me at a loss until recently. Standard answer is now “I work for myself and I shoot people.” Heh.

    1. “I have often wondered if it’s as much as intimidation tactic as it is a self-promoting one.”

      Why, yes it is indeed. I had a meeting two days ago in D.C. and (gah) found myself dropping all sorts of self-promoting little references into it…you do have to prove yourself here. Too many liars, too many bullshitters and the place is enormous. I think smaller nations with tighter social ties (Oz, Canada) are quite different in this respect.

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