What to Do When They Call You Arrogant

While walking through this twisted path of mixed emotions, a valley of euphoric dreams and heart wrenching expectations — this path of being a twentysomething woman — I have always been made to feel like I should reign my feelings in. My happiness is too loud, my sadness is dramatic, my confidence is arrogant. 

Wait, my confidence is arrogant? I’ve seen men praised for this very same trait.

“Arrogance is the root of your downfall.” I’ve heard this over and over until I have the unrelenting urge to yell back, “I know!”

Most of the time when we, as young women, step forward and show ourselves boldly and confidently, that’s what is categorized as arrogance. 

They say it is my ego. I say it’s knowing my worth. 

Watching people equate our confidence to arrogance can often stop us from trying to do great things because others have projected their fears onto us. We are more than a projection. 

In a CBS interview, Taylor Swift captured it perfectly: 

“A man is allowed to react, a woman can only overreact. A man does something? Confident. A woman does it and she’s smug. A man stands up for himself, a woman throws a temper tantrum.” 

We need to establish our armor to deflect double standards like this, because they are toxic and hinder our progress.

But how?

1. Take a breather.

Say you’ve just been called egotistical, overconfident, arrogant, insert-misogyny-here, and it makes the smile drop off your face. It makes your stomach feel like lead.

Forgive me for quoting Taylor Swift twice in one blog post, but this is where you need to shake it off. Thank the person for their opinion and either move on, or, if you think there was a nugget of truth to what they said, re-evaluate. Perhaps there is an opportunity to look at your behavior in a new way, and perhaps review it with some trusted friends. Remember, we are all a work in progress.

2. Write it down. 

Sometimes it helps to put things to paper, both to organize your thoughts and take an objective view of things. Write down the context of what happened, what was said, the actions involved, and any feelings that were aired. 

Review the scenario to see how your communication and behavior contributed to what happened. If you were not being malicious, making anyone feel bad, putting them down, or negatively affecting your environment through your actions, what do you think triggered the comment? Sometimes when you can pinpoint the trigger point, you can figure out if it’s someone else’s baggage you’ve just dealt with.

You can also try the straightforward approach, and ask the same person why they thought you were arrogant. Listen to determine if they have valid points. Don’t be afraid to ask, because they certainly were not afraid to let you know how they felt!

3. Remember who you are.

If you have ever felt you should be quieter when you want to yell your guts out to the world (and perhaps I’ll take this as a reminder to myself), remember that when you are confident, you are not being arrogant. You are not the antithesis of a man and get to decide what your own emotions are. Our confidence is not something we should be ashamed of, it is not vulgar, and it is not embarrassing. It’s what makes us who we are!

Mahrukh is our intern/content creator/Notion wizard, and we’re so happy to have her here with us. She has been contributing as she studies her way around the planet, from NYU Abu Dhabi to NYU Singapore. We love the global view she brings to our work.


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