noun. feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired; consciousness of one’s own dignity.
verb. be especially proud of (a particular quality or skill).
There are so many angles on how we can unpack ‘pride’ so I have been mulling over how to capture my thinking for this one as I kept going off on tangents.
From 1st February it is UK LGBTQ+ History Month so there is an obvious thread to think about identity, sexual orientation and allyship.
I am keen for us to create workplace cultures where everyone can bring their whole self and where each individual can be visibly proud of their authentic self. In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, we have amplified the reflection on how physically and psychologically safe people of colour feel in our school system and in our society. But there are increasing concerns about the impact of lockdown on the LGBTQ+ community, especially if school is the safe space for young people to be themselves and their home environment is an unsafe one, or somewhere where they cannot be authentic.
This week it is also Place 2 Be’s Children’s Mental Health Week and the theme this year is ‘Express Yourself’ which also speaks directly to our sense of self, our ability to be authentic, our ability to communicate who we are.
As someone who is passionate about DEI and MHWB, I encourage people to think about the intersect between identity and wellbeing as there is research that shows that you are more likely to suffer from mental health issues if you have lived experience of a protected characteristic. In some cultures disabilities and especially mental health are stigmatised which creates additional barriers to identifying and supporting individuals who are suffering.
So for me when I reflect on pride it also leads me to reflecting on privilege. There are things I am proud of which perhaps have been easier things to achieve or overcome, because of my identity and upbringing.
Pride is sometimes also associated with ego. To be proud can be seen as a character vice rather than a character virtue. We can be proud of others, but to be proud of ourselves can be seen as bordering on arrogance.
I was facilitating an #IamRemarkable session yesterday morning with a group of brilliant women who inspired and empowered each other to consider the correlation between those who self-promote and those who get promoted. The session helps you to explore your relationship with your accomplishments and reflect on the story you tell about yourself or allow others to tell about you.
Many women and people of colour do not show pride in their accomplishments for fear of criticism and judgement, as the message from society to some groups of people is to be humble and modest. One of the key takeaways from the session is that “it is not bragging if it is based on facts”, encouraging us to own and celebrate our achievements, but to anchor them in evidence so that they are concrete.
Then there is the collective noun, for a group of lions. A pride is a female heavy social group, with a matriarchal hierarchy, who bring up their offspring through communal parenting. This social behaviour is unique to the large cat species.
I have travelled quite extensively in Africa as it is one of my favourite continents to visit, and after the elephant, the lion is the creature I most enjoy observing in their natural habitat. A lion pride spends a lot of time in idleness and sleeping, preserving their energy to then hunt for prey. I love watching a large group of cubs gathered as a family unit, lounging around their lionesses, as they sunbath on a large rock. The tight bonds across the pride are visible. There is a sense of safety in the cubs being near their mothers, and of the nomadic males patrolling the perimeters of their pride to ward off enemies.
So my musings on pride make me consider how I can be a better ally for the LGBTQ+ community. It also encourages me to reflect on what I have achieved and how I communicate that sense of pride in myself. Moreover, it makes me want to host more #IamRemarkable sessions to hold the mirror up to my network to help them to see the version of who they are that we see and celebrate. Finally, it makes me think about the people who are around me, protecting me, and in turn who I am a lioness for, in creating that sense of unity and safety for others.