The Competitive Woman

“From the time we’re little girls, we’re taught to compete. I need to be prettier, taller, smarter, my hair needs to be straighter, curlier, whatever it is. I need to get the better looking guy. I need to ALWAYS BE BETTER THAN  because we’re taught to come from a place of lack as women.” – Sophia A. Nelson, The Woman Code 

I was recently browsing through the little ol’ world of Instagram a couple of days ago and came across one post that posed the question of why we as women are so often…for lack of a better word…straight up nasty to other women. Granted, we all have our insecurities. But is that always the root cause of our sometime-y disposition to tear one another down? Or is it as Nelson (award-winning author, radio and t.v personality, and motivational speaker) explains, that we are taught to strive to always be “better than?” And what does this “place of lack” look like for each of us?

Of course, men can be guilty of this too but…ladies, we are just catty by nature, amiright? What are we trying to prove by slandering, undermining, and constantly trying to one-up one another? Why do we need to compete to be Alpha women? To be the “baddest” What is the prize? Check this: that young girl you see with the four rowdy kids, who makes her living off of barely minimum wage at Wendy’s? She’s just as bad as you. That homeless woman you see on the corner of Whatever-the-name-of-that-street-is, who looks like she hasn’t bathed in weeks? Yeah, she’s just as bad as you. That elderly lady you see riding down the grocery aisle in her motor chair with an oxygen tube in her nose? Yep, just as bad as you. That single college girl who’s scrambling around working 3 jobs, balancing 20 credits and a social life while racking up debt? Just as bad as you. That lady you see around in church, who’s also a *ahem* stripper, trying to make ends meet?…Again, just as bad as you.

We can get so caught up in our vanity that we place ourselves on these pedestals and look down on other women who seemingly “need to get themselves together”, or who are “ratchet” or “uneducated” or “incompetent” or “ugly” or “stupid”, it goes on and on. We women have the uncanny ability to single out every little flaw we can find. It’s like we dig deep looking for reasons why another female is “inferior” to us. What an exhausting life, if all you strive for is to be the object of people’s idolization – to constantly feel like you have to come out on top.

We must learn to “lift as we climb” Nelson says. There is room for all of us to thrive. To be phenomenal. To be beautiful. I also like the tips Nelson gives (that can be applied in our personal life as well as professional life) as a practical means of building one another up:

  1. Beware of who you surround yourself with. You really are who you keep company with. You entertain nasty people, well…
  2. Collaborate, don’t compete. That’s not to say you shouldn’t work hard for what you want. And competition can be healthy. But not when it’s “I want this and I’m going to do what I can to make you look bad so that I am the more likable option.”
  3. Be a mentor. Invest in one another the way you want to be invested in.
  4. Reciprocate. Lift and you, in turn, will be lifted.
  5. Be willing to have “courageous” conversations. Respectfully and privately explain when another woman has hurt you in any way. And when you come to an understanding and resolution, drop it.

Wallace, Kelly. (2015). 5 Ways Women Can Stop Tearing Each Other Down At Work. Retrieved March 24, 2018 from https://www.cnn.com/2015/03/25/living/feat-women-helping-women-sophia-nelson/index.html

**Featured image by Daniel Garcia @dannyg**

 

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