Modesty really is for suckers

I’ve decided it’s time for me to re-commit myself to my motto, because it recently slipped a little bit.

Modesty. Is. For. Suckers.

I won’t hide my light. Ever. I won’t concern myself with others seeing my confidence as conceit. I absolutely will not downplay the positives just in case it all goes awry.

Many of us were raised in a world where girls not only didn’t boast, they were taught to be “modest.” (Thus my choice of that particular word.) Cross your legs. Don’t speak out. Don’t make waves. If you share how good you are at something, others will think you’re conceited. Being a child of the 60’s and 70’s also made me a child of constant conflicting messages. All the old mores were being rebelled against. Hindsight shows me my own parents struggling with tradition vs. how they actually felt.

I’ve always been an optimist. The notion of not getting my hopes up in case something doesn’t pan out never seemed logical to me. If all goes well, you’ve spent time needlessly worrying. If it goes south, you spent extra time in that worry when you could have been daydreaming of better outcomes. Whether I plan for the worst or hope for the best doesn’t alter the outcome, so, for the most part, I choose to spend my energy in a more positive mindset.

But once in a while…

Last weekend, I shared a worry that strikes me now and again, but–truly–doesn’t linger. Because it’s writing related, I have uttered this worry more than once among the same people. After saying it the other day, I said to myself, “They’re going to think this is really eating at me!” And when I mentioned this connected thought to a friend just yesterday, her response was, “We’re just not used to seeing you as anything but confident.”

Well…me either! On the way home from lunch, I pondered why I keep speaking this worry aloud when I rarely even think it. Honestly? Even if the worst case scenario does become reality, it’s not going to change the way I look at myself, my writing, my anything. You know what I realized? It’s because I’m downplaying my talent, my accomplishments, so others don’t think I’m arrogant about it.

How ridiculous is that? Seriously. I am a talented writer. I’ve accomplished a lot in my years in this publishing world. Anyone who knows me, who loves me, will celebrate along with me. Having confidence doesn’t mean I never make mistakes, that I never fail. It just means I won’t wallow in doubt and despair if I do. I’m not going to ever preemptively doubt myself, because I know there is nothing I can’t do when I set my mind to it. Successfully? Maybe not, but doubt is never going to be the reason I fail.

I accept my faults, my failures, my less-than-stellar moments–whether personally or professionally–with an open heart and open eyes. I accept my confidence and all-around brilliance the same way.

It took me a long time to adopt my motto and embrace it with everything I am. I’m never going to downplay my own fabulous self because “people” might look at me askance. As the saying goes, “What other people think of me is none of my business.” It says more about them than it does me. There’s two adages for the price of one.

Modesty is for suckers, baby.



Filed under Life's honest moments

18 responses to “Modesty really is for suckers

  1. Powerful, and something we could all benefit from! A seminar by you would help everyone!


  2. MaryAnn Forbes

    You are indeed a fabulous goddess– always let your light shine!


  3. Yes! It’s cognitive dissonance overload to work on a book with the expectation others will read it and to simultaneously tell yourself (or others) that you’re not talented.
    The phrase, “hide my light” always makes me think of the Ghost of Christmas Past, and his dismay at being asked to put his cap back on. ❤


    • Terri-Lynne DeFino

      You’re right. It’s so self-defeating! LOL
      And, on Dickens’ ghost–I love it! What a beautiful way to make such comment.


  4. Elizabeth Young

    I’m going to apply to this job and I was telling my husband the other night, I’m probably not qualified. And then I thought, fuck that, our current president isn’t qualified to do his job but that sure didn’t stop him from running OR getting the job! There are crazy stats about women not applying for jobs they ARE qualified for b/c they think they’re not and men applying for jobs they’re NOT qualified for….So, right, modesty be damned, dammit!
    P.S. If you feel my post is too controversial, take it down but at least you’ve seen it. 🙂


    • Terri-Lynne DeFino

      Oh, darling, too controversial? You have to know me (Bd my opinion if 45) better than that. Good luck! As if you need it.


  5. dianamunozstewart

    I love you. Your kindness and warmth and generosity. Your creativity and joy. Your gifts and brilliance shine brightly.


  6. Love This! A good reminder to keep my head up. I REALLY identified with you when talked about downplaying your talent so others don’t think you are cocky or arrogant. I find myself doing this a lot. Thank you for the uplifting words!


  7. Kelly Ramsdell

    I love this with my whole heart and being. Thank you so much for this!!


  8. Allison

    Tee, I have told you this before, but I am happy to repeat myself. Not because you are fishing for compliments, because that has never been your style. I have thought you were someone to admire from the day I met you. Like if I stood close enough to you, some of your amazingness might rub off on me – even a tiny fleck would have sufficed. You were fearless and confident even in the silliest of moments. I remember reading your stories even back then and thinking-no, knowing, that you would one day be a published author. So, am I jealous of your “everything”? Not in the bitter meaning of the word. Jealous that I didn’t feel the same way about myself- yes. Jealous that I wasn’t confident enough to dream to own the idea of happiness and joy about who I was – definitely. But I was taking notes my friend. I can enjoy your successes and support you during your hardest times – because I love all of you and am proud to say, “I knew her when….”. Embrace your lack of modesty my love – if anyone has earned that right, it is you Tee💜🌈🦄


    • Terri-Lynne DeFino

      Jeez woman. Way to make me cry! 😀 ❤
      Thanks, my sweetheart. Every one of your words touches me. And please know, it's not too late for you to dream your own ideas of happiness into being. It's never too late to know your own worth, to claim it, and tell the things keeping you down to fuck the hell off.
      I know I speak from a place of privilege, that privilege being a loving, support system. I was lucky to have my family all my life. I have Frank and my kids. But there is, and must be, more to life than family. I made the conscious decision to grow my loving support system around me. I let my shine SHINE until those in my life had to bask in the glow or run away, eyes covered. I made friends who became like family. Friends I cherish like family. I believe there is good in everyone, and–most of the time–people will live up to what you believe of them. And I've been able to let those less-than-loving people in my life go. It's always sad, but it's survival.
      You had a rough family life, even at the best of times, but you can still create that loving support system of friends. You can! You're sweet and brilliant and giving. That draws people. Find them. Give all you are without letting people take too much, or trample you underfoot. And if they do, know it's not a defect in you, but a flaw in them. Those who appreciate your worth will never take more than you have to give. It's never too late, love. Never.


  9. I love your post. We shouldn’t have to be modest about who we are. We should be able to shine!


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