It’s Not Bragging if it’s True: Why It’s Okay to be Proud of Your Own Success

Whatever line of work they’re in, millennials have one thing in common when it comes to the goals they set in their professional life – achieving success.

So if we’re all agreed on what we’re striving for, why do so many of us shy away from our accomplishments when we finally reach them?


I recently spent time with a good friend who has achieved a fairly senior role in her company while she was over Canada visiting me. Despite waiting years for her eventual promotion as the editor of a London magazine, she met my friends – and left my friends – cloaked in mystery, with none of them any the wiser as to what she did for a living.

“Your English mate… what is it she does? Something to do with media?” asked one. When I filled him in on her job title, he was understandably surprised to learn that she was heading up a whole department at a weekly publication that everyone in the room had heard of.

“She kept that one quiet” everyone agreed.

But why?

No one could conceivably have accused her of bragging when they were the ones asking about her profession, and I know how much she enjoys her job – so what possible reason could she have for not wanting to share it with other people?

And she’s not the only one.

Seeing a friend or acquaintance squirm away from the details of their high-powered or enviable jobs when asked about them is an all too familiar sight. Often a friend or significant other has to coax it out of them, or answer on their behalf.

“His job is actually really cool, he gets to travel loads and manages a whole team of people” is the rejoinder I hear more often than I should following a vague response from the person in question, to the effect of “Oh, just a project manager.”

Of course there could be any number of reasons why people are prevented from being upfront about their work and successes – but a false sense of modesty definitely shouldn’t be one of them.

It’s not just a case of you doubting your own success or knowing that you still have room for improvement and more goals to set yourself for the future. This is about refusing to be shy about what you do and allowing yourself to occasionally indulge in your own triumphs.

After all, isn’t that why we set our alarms, get out of bed, and check our emails long into the evening? So that we can actually enjoy and celebrate our personal victories later?

Forget #HumbleBrags – let’s go the whole hog and positively shout it from rooftops.

Here are some tips to owning your success:

Live In the Moment
The economy isn’t as stable as it could be and perhaps you work in a fickle industry – so you’re worried that bending everyone’s ear about how wonderful your job is and what a big deal you are may come back to bite you. But there’s a difference between arrogance and pride. You can’t control the future, so enjoy your success now.

Your Modesty Might Come Off as Indifference
The world is a lot smaller than you think it is and mutual friendships are rife. So when you shrug that your job is “nothing special” because you don’t want to be conceited, someone who knows someone who knows your boss might think you’re dissatisfied with work – and it could easily get back to them. Don’t be afraid to have some pride in what you do.

You’re a Walking, Talking Resume
Perhaps it seems self-important and bigheaded to talk about your achievements openly. But you never know who you might be chatting with and what opportunities there could be around the corner. You’re networking all the time even if you don’t realize it, so make sure you’re putting yourself in the best light at all times and showcasing your credentials – you can still be humble about it.

Let Your Friends Bore You About Work
Even after four attempts at explaining it, you may not truly understand what your best friend actually does for a living. But if she’s talking about it, she obviously wants to share it with you. Try not to look blank when she’s discussing monthly projections, ask questions, and let her enjoy her success with you. Looking bored will prevent her from talking about it with you (or anyone else) at a later date.