This post has been syndicated by Blogher.

Reading through the blog posts recapping the Blogher ’10 conference, I came across a post by Denise Tanton about how we, as women, need to embrace our power and strength.

“You. Are. Powerful,” she wrote. “But many of you don’t know it — or don’t recognize it — or don’t own your power.”

It's ok to stand out and bask in the sunlight.

Wow. As I sat on my couch to compose my very first comment on a Blogher post, tears in my eyes, I wondered why I had such an emotional response to this article. It was as if Denise had written her article just for me, hitting me at a time when I am gathering up my courage and self-confidence. Finally, I commented that it is so easy to deflect and act shy because of our own insecurities or for fear of being labeled something nasty. Denise responded, “What could we possibly be called, for owning our strengths and acknowledging our talents and using our power? And why should we be afraid of that?”

Well, that got me thinking. I’m a white woman in my early 30s in a metropolitan area running two successful businesses. I have never been denied an opportunity based on my gender, I have never had to lobby for equality, nor have I ever burned my bra (although I do contemplate that semi-regularly.) Yet, somehow, I discount my own worth as a woman. I can’t tell you if this is cultural, learned, inbred, just in me, a product of my own background or psyche, or what. But I know it to be true.

I am hesitant to accept compliments and embrace my own power for fear of being labeled something nasty. You know the words — selfish, stuck up, conceited, bitch. Since when is self-confidence equal to bitch? But it’s there, that nagging little thought. I run my businesses well, I write a funny blog, I’m raising a preschooler, I make a home-cooked meal every night. And on top of that, I’m finding time to be creative and pursue my passions. I should be able to stand up and say, ‘Look at me, look at what I’m able to do,’ without fear that I will be judged or ridiculed. But you know what? I am fearful. I’m worried that other people are going to judge me and knock me down. Even with my original comment and this post, part of my brain tried to convince me to leave well enough alone, saying ‘You’re brand new to the Blogher community, who wants to listen to you?’

Lately, when I have anxiety and a complete lack of self-confidence, I end up giving myself Stuart Smalley-type pep talks (because I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and, doggonit, people like me). I have to physically take a breath and remind myself I have what it takes to see me through anything.

Is talking to myself and over-analyzing everything completely healthy? Probably not. Am I working on it? Yes. Because I am slowly learning I have a lot to contribute. As I continue to mull these thoughts over, I know this:

  • My voice should and will be heard.
  • I am powerful, I am unique, and I am good at what I do.
  • And if I stumble (which I am also afraid of), so what? I will learn and add that knowledge to my power.
  • I will embrace my power graciously, without conceit, but with my conscience and a level head.
  • Because I AM good enough, I am smart enough, and, doggonit, people like me.

Read Part 2 of my Power Trip here.