humble-dogToday I received a mailing list email from one of my favorite authors, Mur Lafferty, where she talks about “humbledrag.”1 In essence, humbledrag is the act of dragging down your efforts, talents, abilities, whatever, to appear humble. Now, she wasn’t talking about false humility, but genuine beliefs that your work isn’t as good as anyone else’s, simply because it was your own work. Not exclude the men in my audience, this is something we, as women, particularly need to become aware of. Men can humbledrag, but girls and women receive messages that this is the proper way to think about their work. Hell, I was raised by a feminist but I humbledrag with the best of them. If we appraise our work correctly, then we lose. We lose the raise, the house, the fiance, the book deal, whatever, because we’re “pushy” or “bossy” or “have unrealistic expectations”.

We need to be aware of our humbledragging. We need to notice when we do it verbally and we need to edit it out of our written work. I’m thinking about creating a reward system for myself: every time I notice myself humbledragging, I get a reward. Just a small one. Two hours of guilt free reading, for example, or an episode or two of my current favorite show. We should also help each other. Keep an ear out for your friends’ humbledragging. Agree between friends that you will point out each other’s humbledragging in a friendly way, such as saying “Humbledrag!” (or simply “Hb!”) whenever you notice them doing it. Make it a game between you; the last thing we want here is meanness, since that will just reinforce the humbledragging behavior.

I’m going to make a definite effort to avoid humbledragging from now on. Anyone with me?

1Shambling Guide to New York, Ghost Train to New Orleans, as well as numerous short works, many available for free. Just check out her website at

[Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons. I give credit to the actual photographer, if Flickr hadn’t dandified it’s site to point that I can’t tell who it was. But the link there should get you to the original photo]

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This entry was posted in Musings.

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