It all started with a little post on Twitter by San Francisco OB-GYN Dr. Jen Gunter, urging this call to action:
Ladies, tell me about your appropriate confidence.
I’m tired of having to say it louder for the patriarchy and the peanut gallery.#AppropriatelyConfident
— Jennifer Gunter (@DrJenGunter) October 14, 2018
I was hooked when I read an early response from a pediatrician, who (on top of everything else a pediatrician might feel self-confident about) mentioned that she does the New York Times crossword IN PEN. Now, that is true confidence, my heart sisters. . .
I decided to bite, tossing aside all that ‘aw shucks’ false modesty that women are so often socialized to embrace. Here’s how I responded about myself:
“Dropped out of art college in the 1960s, went back to university for nine years of night school in my 40s. I write/speak about women’s ❤️ health, often invited to speak at med conferences. Awesome reviews eg “The patient speaker was extremely captivating!” #AppropriatelyConfident
— Carolyn Thomas (@HeartSisters)
I was mesmerized by so many of the #AppropriatelyConfident responses from other women! Their statements contrasted with the countless women I’ve heard from who openly admit their reluctance to “make a fuss” or draw attention to themselves – even when in the middle of a frickety-frackin’ heart attack!
I was one of them. The urgent need to be normally assertive during a cardiac crisis didn’t seem enough to counter that reluctance for me and for many otherwise assertive women. And I learned on the spot what could happen when I did dare to speak up to the Emergency physician who had just misdiagnosed my textbook heart attack symptoms as acid reflux: his nurse came up after he left my bedside, and sternly warned me:
“You’ll have to stop questioning the doctor. He is a very good doctor, and he does NOT like to be questioned.”
The question I’d had the temerity to ask? “But Doc, what about this pain down my left arm?”
It takes a good healthy dose of self-confidence to insist to people with the letters M.D after their names that something is wrong when they tell us it’s not, or that we deserve to have our cardiac symptoms taken seriously – especially for those of us who are used to being misdiagnosed, dismissed and sent home, as many female heart patients are.
Many of us need regular reminders that we should worry far less about being perceived as “difficult” and worry far more when our health – and life – are at risk.
To do that, we need to exercise that confidence muscle.
So in no particular order, here are some of my favourites of women’s responses to Dr. Gunter – along with an invitation of my own: What are YOU appropriately confident about?
“I have a PhD and worked for years as a psychologist at a university. Then Bipolar I Disorder hit. I’ve been hospitalized involuntarily 3x. Despite this, I know I’m a loving, good mom to my 4 kids, including my autistic son.” #AppropriatelyConfident
— Dr. Alicia Hendley (@AliciaMHendley)
“I’m a really, really good piano sight-reader.” #AppropriatelyConfident
— Elin Roddy (Jones) (@elinlowri)
“I finally believe the weak inner voice that tells me that ALL of my confidence is appropriate.” #AppropriatelyConfident
— Dr Nisreen Alwan (@Dr2NisreenAlwan)
“I am not an expert in anything, really but I am quite good at a lot of things and #AppropriatelyConfident that I know when to find an expert. My friends come to me for help & advice a lot because of that.”
— CanadianChick (@SkepCdnChick)
“I’m the queen of Plan B. If plans go awry, I’m usually pretty darn good at improvising a way forward on the fly. #AppropriatelyConfident
— NotoriousCBK (@Colleenky)
“In spite of a father who constantly insisted women can’t, I have consistently proven I can, while maintaining a deep sense of kindness and humor.” #AppropriatelyConfident
— Uppity Cancer Pt (@UppityCancerP)
“I walked out on a job which was destroying my mental health, with no other job to go to. I now have two jobs (by choice), one of which is literally my dream job. And I’m really good at it. I’m empathetic and smart and kind. I’m stronger every day.” #AppropriatelyConfident
— Lydia Mizon (@LydiaMizon)
“Talked my way out of police custody in Saudi Arabia once. #AppropriatelyConfident for life since then.”
— Mighty Casey Quinlan (@MightyCasey)
“I am really good at helping people to find the music inside themselves, and using it to connect with others. I make people feel good about themselves.” #AppropriatelyConfident
— MummyWriter (@mummywriter)
“I am exactly the mother my kid needs.
I am skilled at simplify messages.
I am also very funny.” #AppropriatelyConfident
— Amy Boughner (@amyboughner)
“Two weeks into April of this year I started a new RN job, my mother went into hospice and died two weeks later, I started my MSN in Nursing Informatics that same day, I am the breadwinner of my family, and I have a 2 year old. I start therapy next week.” #AppropriatelyConfident
— 🗳VOTE!!!🗳(And get your flu shot!) (@omaha_runner)
Q: Are you as “appropriately confident” as you would like your daughters to grow up to be?
- Do you think you’re a “somebody”?
- Too embarrassed to call 911 during a heart attack?
- Is ‘being nice’ hurting women?
- Six personality coping patterns that influence how you handle heart disease
- Could ‘goodism’ and self-sacrifice be linked to women’s heart disease outcomes?
- Life after heart attack if you’re a Type A
- Are you too hard on yourself?