Why We Hide Success

May 4, 2020

I’ve been a frugal person for as long as I can remember. For me, money has always made me anxious. It’s probably an emotion passed down from my grandmother to my mother and then down to me. I was taught not to talk about money and to save it for a rainy day. So I’ve done a good job of that. A really good job.

While in college, I never ate out because I knew I would save more if I didn’t. I didn’t drink until I was in my mid-twenties and even then, it was on a rare occasion. These two things alone allowed me to save more than most at my age. When I found my husband, it turned out he had the same approach to money as me; one that would allow us to start our lives together in good standing with a solid safety net in our savings account. This year, we made our biggest financial move ever when we decided to buy our dream home and rent out our condo. Something we had dreamed of doing since we purchased our condo but were unsure we’d really be set up to do it.

I hide my success to not feel guilty that I have more than someone else. I also hide my success so that others aren’t uncomfortable

When it all came together and we finally found a renter right before Corona Virus hit the US, our success became something I felt guilty about in front of others. It felt showy to say that we could afford a home that was way bigger than the two of us needed, one we hoped to fill down the road with kids but aren’t ready for yet. I felt like I was bragging to say that we also had a condo that is building on equity even if it was breaking even month to month.

Even now, as I write this, I think of the ways that I could be downplaying the success we encountered these last few years and feel uncomfortable about putting this all down on paper.  But that’s the problem, isn’t it? As a woman, specifically, I feel uncomfortable not only talking about money but also talking about how we’ve done it right (at least up until this point).

There is something we are taught as young women that is engrained in us as adults. It may have even started long before then when our mothers and grandmothers were fighting for seats at the table. Fighting so hard that a lot of the time the competition was against other women creating a competitive culture we are still trying to break down today.

In all success there were failures, and if we can share the success we’re experiencing along with the failures that came along the way, we might just be able to help a sister out.

I hide my success to not feel guilty that I have more than someone else. I also hide my success so that others aren’t uncomfortable that they aren’t where I am. So I downplay all I’ve worked for to make them feel better. Isn’t that always the case though. We hide our light in order to make others feel like their light is bright enough.

There is a line to be drawn when talking about success. We’ve all known the person who is using their success to belittle others, and that’s not my goal. But making a statement of being proud of something you worked for, accomplishing a goal that’s taken you years to get to and want to share it or want to show some credibility and let others know that you’re happy to give advice if they ever want it, is not something to be ashamed of.

Instead of trying to belittle ourselves, we could instead, with grace, talk about our experience. Mention the hard work that went into accomplishing a goal and the insight and lessons we learned along the way. In all success there were failures, and if we can share the success we’re experiencing along with the failures that came along the way, we might just be able to help a sister out. Maybe they’ll get to find their own success a little sooner with the help of our success.

Instead of dimming our light, we let it shine and help other women to shine their light brighter too. That’s the conversation about success I want to be a part of.

Total: