You owe it to nobody to pretend to be less than you are.
One of the first lessons we learn as girls is how to be coy. We learn to feign shyness because it's so appealing in little girls. We learn to pretend to be dumb because sometimes it's so much easier than listing to a man tell you how wrong you are.
We learn to reject praise. Rejecting praise is an essential life skill of femininity. "Oh, this old thing? No, I don't know why I even wore it." "Oh, I couldn't have done it without you."
We learn so thoroughly to publicly devalue our strength that we internalize it. We tell ourselves how helpless we are, how incompetent we are, how ugly we are and how much we are always less-than.
It's a message informed endlessly through our lifetimes — by ads that tell us we're never thin enough, by articles that tell us we're never young enough, by employers who tell us we're never experienced enough, by romantic partners who tell us we're never good enough; even by our families who tell us when and how we ought to marry and procreate.
All of our choices, viewed through the lens of "what it means to be female," tell us we just don't have what it takes. We are essentially lacking. We are the problem. The thing is: all of that is total bullsh*t. And as Eleanor Roosevelt said, "Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent."
No girl should hedge her own praise. No girl should be the leader in her own belittlement. And the world is filled with girls who are learning how amazing they truly are.
The world is full of smart girls who know they can rock their bikini bodies at a size 22. Girls who know they're the smartest person in the room. Girls who are doing amazing things in every field, in every industry.
And one thing those girls have in common is never being the first person to say how little they deserve what they get.
What we need is a smart girl revolution of self-affirmation. We need every woman to learn to take a compliment, to hear somebody, especially herself, say, "You did a good job," and to be able to answer, "Damn right I did."
We need a smart girl revolution of ladies rewarding themselves — not for dieting until they meet some goal weight, but because they killed it at their jobs, or made something beautiful or useful, or because today they just plain nailed it.
The smartest girls know they don't have to apologize for being fabulous, they don't have to tell themselves that being demure is in their DNA. They don't have to accept compromises that degrade them. They stand up and they say, "Not good enough," because they know their own damn worth.
And they get what they deserve, because they're willing to fight for it.