Things I’m Good At

November 22, 2015

A while back I read an article in Sunday Life by Kerri Sackville about imposter syndrome, perfectionism, and self-disparagement. All good topics. I’ve written about perfectionism before and have been thinking about writing on imposter syndrome because lord knows I’ve had my fair share of that. But today I wanted to write about the act of disparaging oneself.

I could empathise with a lot of Kerri’s examples (exemplified by my consistent head-nodding and “Mhmm!”-ing as I read) and found the article stayed with me long after I finished it. The more it sat with me, the more disturbed and angry I became. So many memories flashed before my eyes of times where I’d played down my contribution to something good or shied away from compliments and praise. I thought of other people in my life that did the same and saw a definite difference between men and women. Broadly speaking, it seems women are taught, perhaps implicitly, to be self-disparaging. To not own up to being good at anything. To downplay our strengths and abilities. Because if we spoke up and owned up, that would be seen as conceited and self-righteous. Well, guess what?

Fuck that shit. I’m a chronic self-disparager and I’ve had enough. In a bid to remind myself to not be so hard on myself, I had a think about some things that I’m actually good at. I encourage you, reading this, to do the same. Everyone has something.

Here, listed below, are a bunch of both little and big Things I’m Good At:

  • Writing.
  • Editing.
  • Figuring out what words mean based on their structure/etymology.
  • Reading lots of books.
  • Sketching.
  • Baking delicious sweet things for other people (and myself) to enjoy.
  • Being creative and crafty.
  • Teaching.
  • Explaining things.
  • Being organised.
  • Organising other people.
  • Colour co-ordinating my outfits.
  • Singing along to the Mary Poppins soundtrack (chim chiminy chim chiminy chim chim cher-oo!). And the best of The Corrs.
  • Finding bargains in op shops.
  • Taking photos.
  • Buying/making gifts for other people that they love.
  • Wrapping said gifts!
  • Growing succulents.
  • Checking in on people I care about to see if they’re okay.

It was a great deal easier to compile that list than I first thought it was going to be. The tricky part came when I was reviewing the list and my little inner voice kept saying “Hmm, writing hey? You’re only sometimes good at that. Put “sometimes” at the end of that dot point” or “You’re only good at explaining some specific things…it’s really quite limited”. Resist throwing in those (largely unnecessary) qualifiers and just say it like it is.

And don’t get me wrong, there are things I’m definitely not good at – and this is okay too! I’m not very good at writing concisely or letting go of grudges or being patient with slow drivers. But I’d much rather focus on what I am good at and slowly work at getting better at the things that matter.

So, tell me, what are YOU good at? I want to know!


    1. This totally rocks. YEEEESSSS!!!
      I am so down for more of this. Who died as a direct result of you listing your strengths? Nobody, though perhaps an ominous chill came over the inner critic’s heart.
      Things I am good at:
      Saying no.
      Encouraging people.
      Not apologising or backtracking when others have totally misinterpreted me. (Go Internet!)
      Making a room welcoming and cosy.
      Choosing cool bed linen.
      Making up lyrics on the spot.
      Chip eating.
      Dappled light appreciation.

      I could go on and on, but I’d rather hear YOU go on and on.

      This post rocks.

      1. Haha I’m all about causing an ominous chill to come over the inner critic’s heart. You have some EXCELLENT things on your list, Annette! I feel I have experienced firsthand quite a lot of them – encouraging peeps, quips, making impromptu song lyrics, dappled light appreciation. All such good things. Thanks for sharing.

        I feel there are many other things I am also good at that I have not picked up on just yet. I may do a “Things I’m Good At 2.0” sometime in the near future!

    1. Excellent post, Jacquie. I overlap with you quite a bit – organised, baking, being crafty. I’d add to the list I’m good at listening to friends, proof reading essays, being disciplined at exercising (walking, yoga), table manners, being friendly to people, asking rather than accusing.
      Being a home mum for a LONG time, it’s rare to get positive feedback – no KPIs to meet or performance reviews so it’s important to sometimes acknowledge my strengths. Can easily fall into the mindset of thinking I have little of significance to offer.

      1. Thanks Carolyn! Ooh, I like your additions very much. Proofreading essays! Asking rather than accusing! Nice. Thanks for sharing!

        Haha if only there were KPIs for parenting. I’ve heard you talk about your kids and you are so incredibly proud of them – as you should be, by the sounds of how they’ve turned out! And that’s due in no small part to you and how you’ve raised them, I’m sure.

      1. I can so relate to what you’ve written here Carolyn. I just had to let you know that I feel the same way. I feel very insignificant since becoming a home mum over 16 years ago. And now as a 50 year old woman I almost feel like I’m invisible. I love this list idea!!

    1. Love this! I am also prone to shying away from compliments and never celebrating success. Will have to think about my “good at” list.

      1. Thanks so much Robyna, glad you liked it! It’s tricky, isn’t it? It’s a very easy habit to slip into and it’s so bad for us. I think it’s very important to be able to graciously accept compliments and acknowledge and celebrate your successes in life, no matter how small. Happy list-making!

    1. Love this! I’m good at quite a few things on your list too although I can’t sketch or grow succulents (but I can make a mean French Martini and am a texting ninja!)

      1. Yay! Thanks Kirsten! French martini-making and text ninja-ing are fantastic skills 😀 Love it. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Very brave to write this down Jacquie. Go you! You should totally read Lean In if you haven’t already, I found a lot of the points she made about male v female confidence/self-deprecation etc spot on.

      Since you asked, I am good at:
      Knitting and crochet
      Chinese, Italian, learning foreign languages
      Bridging the cultural gap
      Interviewing people
      Telling stories
      Taking photos
      Organising things
      Baking, when I have an oven
      Public speaking
      Being kind to people

      Not so good at being kind to myself, but working on that one!
      Thanks for sharing your list and motivating us all to think about our strengths xx

      1. Aw, thanks Isabel! It was a lot of fun to write. I haven’t read Lean In yet but it’s on my list! I look forward to it 🙂

        Ooh I really like your list. I can definitely confirm you are an excellent photographer 😀 And I’ve heard you interview before and you really are great at it! I wish I could crochet and speak well in public…I’ve given lectures and seminars before but always get so nervous. Being more confident about would be good. Something to work on 🙂

        Thanks so much for sharing your list – I loved reading it.

      1. Oh, you are more than welcome, Deb. So glad to hear you enjoyed the post. Happy list writing!

    1. Fabulous list and perspective on life – go you! My favourite is “singing along to the Mary Poppins soundtrack”. I think that’s one of mine too 😀 xx

      1. Yay! Thanks so much, Rebecca! It’s a very important skill that should be highlighted, in my opinion 😀 Glad you enjoyed the post! x

    1. Hmmm. This is great, although a little scary to. Because lots of things on everyone’s lists, I want to be good at, but don’t feel that I’m there yet. But, one thing I can say, I’m good at being aspirational! I’m good at picking up my kids on time from school and day care, even when I’m right in the thick of work (paid and otherwise). I think I’m good at making healthy food that tastes good to, and very good at mixing a gin and tonic. So there are some essentials that I am good at; sketching and crochet require more work, but I’ll get there. ?

      1. I like your comment a lot, Collette! It IS a tad scary, hey? I was actually a bit nervous when I posted this but then I figured that was part of the problem – I shouldn’t feel nervous, no one should, when talking about things they believe themselves to be good at. You’ve got some excellent things on your list! I like the sound of healthy food that also tastes good 😀 Balancing kids with work is incredibly impressive, Collette. I don’t have kids myself but I believe I can still understand how difficult it must be at times to get that balance right for all parties involved. And don’t worry, crochet and being a patient driver are things I definitely need to work on 😛 Thanks so much for sharing.

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