DH says I am often too self-deprecating and that I lack self-confidence. I tell him that it is a cultural thing. Remind him that I grew up in the UK, and our attitudes there were different. Lucy Kelleher wrote a good article on this phenomenon:
When I was a child, we were taught never to boast. For a start it was bad manners. If you went around saying I got 97% in my algebra test, you made the dunderhead who only got 23% feel even more wretched than he was feeling already. To boast was to let your achievements get out of proportion, and it clashed with that very English idea that everything had to be effortless. Trying was fine - so long as no one caught you at it.
I remember a family friend who used to visit our house. My parents would tell us how clever he was and marvel at the way he wore his intelligence so lightly. The great thing about him wasn't that he was brilliant, but that he hid it so well that no one would have ever suspected that there was anything special about him at all.
I didn't question this attitude until I went to university and took up with an American boyfriend. He looked a bit like Oscar Wilde - which pleased me. Yet what pleased me less was the way he used to tell me that his doctorate thesis on the economy of communist China was an important piece of work. It wasn't that I doubted that it was good. I was just mortified that he felt the need to tell me. Looking back I suspect he wasn't a particularly boastful person. He was just American, and so his mother had never told him that he must hide his light under a bushel at all times.
I thought I had learned to boast like an American quite nicely not long after my arrival here. I applied for a job that I was sure I was a shoo-in for. I didn't get it. One of the committee members was nice enough to tell me that a major reason why I didn't get the job was because I was TOO confident. Apparently, I sounded so confident that I came across as condescending and arrogant. Interestingly, a Kenyan friend who did get hired by the same committee reassured me that it was a cultural misunderstanding - "You just sounded too British." So his perception of the British was that we came across as overly confident . . . exactly the perception that many British people have of Americans! The experience traumatized me and ever since then I've been paranoid, afraid to admit that I know when I'm good at something. I get the job, but then wonder if I only got it because I was too good at bluffing my way in. Can I really do it? When are they going to discover that I'm a fraud?
At a recent meeting with other people in my field, the meeting facilitator made the point that if we don't toot our own horn, if we don't constantly remind people of what we are doing, we will be perceived as doing nothing. So, despite my lack of self-confidence, I will be doing just that, and trying to convince my colleagues that they can't do without me (even though I know they could replace me at the drop of a hat!)