So there's this thing in New Zealand (and other anglosphere) cultures called the "tall poppy syndrome". Originally from a story by Aristotle, "Tall Poppy Syndrome" is where people of genuine merit are resented and thus "cut down," like the tall poppies in Aristotle's story.
It doesn't take too long to realize how this is a bad thing. When the people who are achieving are punished for their efforts, it not only stunts their growth but the growth of others in the community, who now fear the same punishment and ostracisation.
Even so, this tall poppy culture is well and truly alive within us. Just think about how awkward you feel every time you want to tell the world about something you've worked your butt off for. Remember that nagging voice in your head that keeps telling you that no one cares about your finished essay, or your perfect eyeliner application, or the fact that you showered today. We think we're being humble, but what are we really doing?
This self-silencing is particularly common for minorities, as we feel the responsibility of representing entire groups with our every action. Women might be labelled too vain, a person of color too loud; or whatever boring stereotype people come up with next. We feel the need to push back against stereotypical labels, but really, those labels are so broad that in the end, we're only policing ourselves.
So, um, fuck it. We're people, and people are varied, and if people can love Tony Stark for being an arrogant, shit-talking asshole, then they can tolerate it when we put on an arrogant face for once in a while.
Pride has so long been a biblical and societal sin; a reason to to keep people bland and easy to swallow. So there is nothing more politically subversive than for you to stand up and not just be okay with yourself, but fucking crown yourself. Indulge in all the ways in which you are fantastic, and be completely, unashamedly proud of you and your achievements.
And don't forget: life is not a zero-sum game. When someone else is acing life, that does not make you any less glorious. When a friend calls herself a goddess, maybe instead of side-eyeing her and thinking she's vain, maybe share some chocolate with her and talk about how you two are going to achieve world domination. (#justgirlythings.)
Earlier this year Sophia and I had a great chat about selfie culture and how it promotes self love and acceptance. It's so fitting with this theme -- the different ways in which we express pride in a public medium (whether it be selfies or what-have-you) do two super important things. First, it teaches us to be okay with ourselves: what we look like, our personality, etc. After a while of practicing this it teaches us to start genuinely liking ourselves, which is so important in a generation riddled with depression. Secondly, it takes the power of representation back into our hands.
So take it. It can be very easy to feel powerless, but media has never been more democratic. You have the power to show the world who you (a real human being) are. You have the power to show the world all the ways in which you are unapologetically great. You have the power to support your friends for standing being prideful in themselves. And you have the power to post as many selfies, pictures of your food, statuses about how you got out of bed and put on pants today, obnoxious lyrics to your favorite song, badly spelt posts about your feelings -- whatever you want.
Own the space around you. Be prideful. Be vain. Don't apologize. You're doing great. I'm proud of you.