Hi, my name is Portia and I am a recovering good girl. I think as the oldest of three children I came to my good girl tendencies naturally. At school I studied hard, tried really hard, got good grades and helped my teachers after school. I was such a good girl that during the planning of my high school’s (unsanctioned) senior skip day I was asked to collect my classmates’ money because my classmates knew that no principal or teacher would ever suspect I was involved in the event.
At home, I never made trouble. Helped my mom out with the housecleaning, cooking and taking care of my siblings. I worked very hard to please my parents and not disappoint them. I was very good at being a good girl.
My good girl tendencies carried over into my first job after college and well into my career into my early thirties as a senior manager at a New York PR agency. Back then I believed that my hard work would speak for itself and that I didn’t have to promote myself. Back then I clammed up when one of my colleagues took my ideas and presented them as her own to a client. Back then I took the raise I was offered by my manager rather than negotiating for what I was worth. Back then I agreed to take on thankless (and ultimately worthless) projects that did nothing to raise my visibility or increase my value to my business unit or (most importantly) to my clients. Back then, I wouldn’t speak up and give my opinion even when I knew I could add value because I worried I wouldn’t sound smart enough. But that was then.
It’s only in the last few years that I’ve ditched my good girl ways and I’ve learned:
- to tune out my inner critic which has made me more forgiving of myself and less judgmental towards others.
- to make tough or unpopular decisions because it’s the right thing to do regardless of whether it’s popular or not.
- that saying “No” – and really meaning it – doesn’t make me a disagreeable or unlikeable person.
- the value of the 80% solution instead of pouring 150% into everything.
- that I have more energy and time for the things that really matter to me when I’m not worried about making other people happy.
- that not giving a damn what people think about you is amazingly liberating.
- if you don’t promote yourself, no one else will. If you don’t value yourself and what you have to offer, no one else will.
- that (contrary to popular belief) not being a good girl, doesn’t make you a Bitch.
Sometimes I slip and she tries to creep back into my life. But I won’t let her. Remembering my former life as a good girl and what I gave up keeps me honest. I think if I had learned these lessons earlier in life I would have taken more risks and followed my heart more. I would have cared less about what other people said they wanted for me and thought more about what I wanted for myself. For sure, I would have been a much happier person. I might even have gotten further in my career. No matter. A lesson is a lesson and it’s never too late, no matter how old you are, to make a change that will help you get more out of your life, because that’s what it is. Your. Life.
Any other former good girls out there? Or are you still trying to get her out of your life?
Brava to you! I found this post inspiring.
I think it’s how girls were raised in general back in the day and it’s hard to change something that was ingrained when so young so I commend you. I find as long as I’m alive I’ve got new things to learn and new things I want to do. Recently I’m learning to dream even bigger. 🙂
Bella Vida by Letty
Letty, I agree with you. I think the way girls are socialized has a lot to do with it. We are taught from an early age to be “nice girls”- resulting in us always editing ourselves and not letting our true selves shine. Fortunately, though I do see that many younger women (Gen Y’ers and Millennials) seem to not feel the same constraints. And yes, we have learn to dream big. If we don’t do it for ourselves, no one will do it for us. Go for it!