For women, bragging is a necessary but tricky endeavor. We’ve heard that women need to brag more, and that’s true. The only way people will know how awesome and competent we are is if we show them. And lucky us, with our social media presence, we have the show-and-tell platform of every kindergartner’s dreams. So, go ahead and tell the world that you’re totally winning at this life thing. A promotion! A new client! You lost weight! You overcame a yearlong illness! You overcame the yearlong sleeplessness of new motherhood! But guess what? As necessary as bragging and show-and-tell are, no one likes a showoff.
So, here are tips for how to express yourself when you know you’re the sh*t — because you should also know better than to act like your sh*t don’t stink.
1. When you score a sweet new job or promotion.
Avoid thanking God and giving an Oscar speech. I’m not against people publicly sharing their religious/spiritual gratitude. I do it all the time. But, like bragging, acknowledging one’s faith on social media is tricky. For this news, focus on your humanity. Take a picture of something that went wrong on your first day — your heel breaking, your inoperable phone, the PC computer when you’re used to a Mac, the line of traffic, the different scenery that you pass on this new way to work, a screenshot of your phone or watch that says 8:59 (letting us know that you were cutting it close on your first day). Yes, those things are better. Write a caption that mentions a few spare details of the new gig (Maybe something like, “Penny Wrenn reporting for duty, Warner Industries. Here goes nothing!” because no one needs to know your full title, job description and salary.)
2. When you’re “up to something awesome but you can’t spill the details yet.”
Well, if you can’t say anything, then shut the hell up. Okay, “shut up” is harsh. Is “be quiet” better? One of the useful purposes of bragging is to keep people in the loop about your successes. But when you tell people that there’s something they don’t know, and that you can’t tell them, well, then they aren’t in the loop at all, are they? If you can’t tell a single thing, then don’t tease even a little bit.
3. When you survive (a disease, a car accident, a stampede at H&M for the Balmain collection.)
Reign in your #grateful-ness. That is, unless you fancy yourself a person with passable wit and/or a somewhat entertaining writer. It’s fine that you are thankful, but no one wants to hear you go on and on about it. Believe me, I know what I’m talking about here. I’ve rattled on and on with my pseduo-profundity (which is its own kind of “I’ve got all the answers” boastfulness) and the nominal “likes” I’ve received let me know that people weren’t impressed. Now, if I ever get breast cancer, I already have my survival message on deck: “I beat claustrophobia! And I have nine months of breast cancer treatments and three MRIs to thank! Take that, claustrophobia. #ClaustrophiaSurvivor #OhAndIDontHaveCanerAnymoreEither”
4. When you want to say “I’m very proud to announce…”
Say anything — anything — other than “I’m very proud to announce.”
5. When you want to say “I hope this doesn’t sound like bragging, but…”
Press the backspace key and keep pressing it enough times to delete this tired disclaimer. That is, unless you’re being satirical in a #NotBraggingButMyKitchenIsMessierThanYours way.
6. When you become engaged or get married.
Show the ring if you must, but don’t only show the ring. (The bling-on-hand close-up picture is the equivalent of being the chick who’s all too eager to thrust her knuckles into the faces of potential admirers.) Marriage is about a union of two people, not a union of diamond and finger. My favorite Facebook engagement picture shows the couple sitting next to each other; he’s holding her casually in his arms and she has her left hand to her lips with her ring clearly on display, but she has a look of faux shock on her face as if she just spilled the world’s most poorly kept secret. Message received in silly, sweet fashion.
One more thing on promoting your engagement on social media: Skip the whole “I said, ‘Yes!’” line as the standalone announcement. In fact, I’m still waiting for the near-miss engagement announcement that’s like, “Girl, he almost had me. But, thank God, I said, ‘No.’”