Apparently what fascinates most is my commentary on cultural differences. So here’s a quickie: do you know what us North Americans — especially women– do that puzzles the Europeans*? We self-deprecate.
North American women are experts at putting themselves down. We do it in supposed jest but it’s a form of displaying our inner complexes.
In NY where my girlfriends were a fairly balanced mix of cultures, us North American girls would actually try and out-do each other in our proclamations of self-criticism– how much we’re lacking in this, how fat we think we’re getting, how un-organized we are, how much we procrastinate, how incapable we are at X, Y and Z.
The French women would stand back and listen to us in wonder but would never contribute to the self attacks.
The closest I ever got to a Parisian girlfriend admit to a weakness was when I lamented my own inability to remain calm when my two-year old son was being a shithead. I complimented her on never seeming to get flustered when her young children ran amok.
She said, “Yes, but I take it all upon myself on the inside, Catherine. You must never assume that I’m not affected by the chaos. I am. I just don’t show it.”
We women, especially mothers, are so great at building other people up, at telling our kids, girlfriends, and sometimes even our husbands how amazing they are. We even post about it on Facebook. We suck though when it comes to complimenting ourselves.
We even struggle with compliments from others.
Case in point: “That is a gorgeous sweater on you.”
Typical French response: “Thank you.”
Typical American response: “Thank you. I do like it but it itches. And I’m not sure the color suits me that well.”
So what is the point of this piece then? I’d like to propose a challenge to my readers. I’d like you to post a comment directly on the comments section below this piece where you openly brag about something personal– directly related to YOU.
I dare you to put in writing right here on this posting (vs. Facebook) something that has NOTHING to do with your children, or your next holiday destination or your latest purchase of whatever.
Why am I doing this? This is Thanksgiving week. We ponder how much we have to be grateful for. We look around and thank others for enriching our lives.
When was the last time though we actually acknowledged something great about ourselves and were grateful for it?
It’s not easy but I’ll start:
I am a fucking rockstar genius in the kitchen.
p.s. I wanted to add “but I can’t bake for shit” but then I deleted it. Damn. This is harder than I thought…
p.p.s. must now withdraw my “rockstar genius in the kitchen” claim. I burned tonight’s dinner. Sigh.
* The British are also masters at self-deprecation so have been excluded from my gross generalization on Europeans. They do not consider themselves European. They are British.