Photo Credit: Julie Verhoeven
Part of the underlying problem is a misconception that feeling good about yourself results in narcissism, which needs to be policed by the collective. “Don’t get too big for your britches.” And what are britches, anyway? This isn’t Little House on the Prairie.
In Australia the dynamic has a name, “tall poppy syndrome.” The idea being when one flower in the field grows too tall, above the others, it’ll be cut down to size. The message here is don’t shine too brightly or we’ll take you out. Yikes. Not exactly a winning operating system for creativity or personal development.
But actually, having a whole bunch of self-esteem doesn’t turn you into an insufferable energy-suck. Scientific American helpfully breaks this down:
"Those with a healthy self-esteem believe they are worthy and competent, and strive for intimate, meaningful connections with others, but do not necessarily see themselves as superior to others. In contrast, narcissists think they are superior to others, but they don't necessarily view themselves as worthy.”
We’re not here to play small in order to avoid upsetting those who fear change. If we all stuck to the current notions of truth and beauty we would never innovate, which is pretty boring. Advancement is fueled only by those who are brave enough to push past assumptions, to challenge programming.
Now, this is not the same as believing one’s own hype. That’s a different beast. Regardless of how externally successful you become, keep people around you who tell you the truth. Stay humble, ask for help where you need it, seek out opportunities to be of service, and most of all cheer on others in their creative pursuits.
Speaking of going for it despite norms, I recently launched a Substack newsletter called “Since You Asked (and some things you didn't…)” about the experience of being in my skin, at my age, in a culture that would render me invisible - yet I’m pretty much thriving. More on that front soon, but if you’d like to come along for the ride for some unadulterated Laura time, I’d love to have you.
So consider this your nudge to keep on reaching for the sun, my friend. It’s not narcissism, it’s growth. Big britches, right this way.
PS: As usual, I’ve created a monthly round-up of some of what I've been into lately. Hope you’ll find something in there that lights you up, too.
Photo credit: Alessandra Olanow
I’ve been fortunate to collaborate with wildly talented illustrator and graphic artist Alessandra Olanow on multiple projects for AllSwell - including the first 2 AllSwell notebooks. She even hand-drew the wave in our logo (the very same one I have tattooed on my foot). Alex’s latest project is a poignant and beautiful book about her personal grief journey after losing her mother. This book is balm for the soul, offering advice, inspiration, and solace for all of us in the club of grief.
Photo credit: Lisa Love and Kimlet Gordon for Citizens of Humanity
I’m not anti-aging, I just want to do it as well as possible. And this article delivered some welcome news: that scientifically-speaking we tend to be happier when we’re older. I’m on board for that program, particularly that getting older + better is terrain I cover in “Since You Asked.”
I’m not exactly going full #dryjanuary this year, more like…damp January. Making choices mindfully. Sometimes I like a cocktail when I write at night but it doesn’t always serve me. I recently road-tested their newest hit, a not-negroni and it did the trick. All upside, no downside. If you like a wind-down ritual but don’t want to imbibe alcohol, give Little Saints a try. And cheers to trying new things this year! PS: If you’re keen to give Little Saints a shot, use code “DAMPJAN” for a cheeky 15% discount.
Photo Credit: Monsieur Plant
Lesser known facts I learned listening to this engrossing podcast with Thom Yorke, the frontman of Radiohead: Thom decided on his career at the age of seven, when he lay on the floor between large speakers at a friend’s house and listened to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. He made his own electric guitar when he was 10, and wrote his first song at 11. But it was his acknowledgment of his own former boorish behavior that stopped me in my literal tracks. He owned it, apologized for it and has grown past it. Now that’s self-esteem versus narcissism in practice.