I’ve been working really hard on something recently. And that is my relationship with other women.
Accepting that I have been competing is a scary thing. It makes me feel completely uneasy, but it is an important step to reach. And not only to accept but to begin to understand why.
We are pitted against each other from such an early age, that trying to unlearn the competitive nature takes work.
One sad thing I have realised is that most instances of competition I can remember stem from the yearning to secure attention from some man involved in the storyline.
But I will not let that story play out any longer. We are subjected to suffering enough without enforcing it on each other, too.
Sadly, I think there are many women (and I would still put myself in this group too, but I’m working on it and it is becoming a less regular occurrence) who are still placing their focus and energy on receiving validation from men.
And who can blame them?
From the moment we are born we are told how we need a prince charming, how we’ll look beautiful in a wedding dress, what great mothers we will be, and just how our romantic comedy will play out in our own lives. Nothing we are told is ever about what fantastic careers we will have, what great brains we have, or how we can make the world a better place than the one we entered into. But we will.
I remember in secondary school we used to make polls about who was the most “attractive” out of our group of friends, or what our best physical feature was. Competition competition competition. Which ultimately results in someone feeling horrendous about themselves.
Were the boys doing the same?
Of course not. They were voting on our polls, dishing out cruel insults to those that didn’t fit the bill, but never subjecting themselves to the polls. They knew we would be waiting there for them, desperate to feel valued in the only way we knew how. I feel so sad and angry with how many friendships that could have been; never were, mainly because we were too busy in a never-ending cycle of competition.
It makes my stomach turn.
I guess the point I’ve reached is that by pitting ourselves against each other, we don’t stand to gain anything. It doesn’t hold men accountable for their actions. It won’t change their behaviour. And we continue self-sabotaging in the cruellest way.
We are so much stronger when we like each other.
It is impossible to count the number of times I have spoken to women about a situation and they just get it in a way that a man—no matter how great he is—cannot.
We understand in a different way because we have a shared experience. Conversations with women are refreshing, invigorating and comforting in equal measure. There is a soft strength to us that is beautiful. We can be water and fire in one fail swoop. We can empathise gently while we simultaneously encourage each other not to settle for less than we deserve. There are commonalities and connections that run in our core.
I refuse to see another woman as a threat any longer
The feeling of being threatened usually comes from a feeling of insecurity in ourselves. We see someone with something we are lacking; and we hold onto that and can no longer see anything else. We no longer think about their insecurities. We no longer think about the suffering they may have experienced. And we lose sight of what we have in common.
But by losing sight of this, we miss out on seeing what these women have to offer. Because we all have something to offer; and once we share whatever that thing is, we stand to gain so much.
So from today, instead of trying to outrun the women standing next to me, I’m choosing to run with them instead.