BY JEN OLENICZAK BROWN
“Well she got the promotion, so now I won’t.”
“She’s doing a talk on that, so now I can’t.”
“She got that opportunity, so now I never will.”
Sound familiar? Even if it was a passing thought, all too often women are competing against one another and feel like the pie of success is finite. From “Only I can be the best at this!” to “She got it so I won’t,” this feeling is prevalent even in the folks that claim community over competition. The “why” has been linked to everything from the beginning of time when we were competing to get the best mate to fill our wombs to Disney mentality: if you’re pretty and great, then an evil stepsister/mother will come get you and poison you with an apple or spinning wheel.
As fascinating as it might be, the why doesn’t matter. What matters is moving away from this mentality of the pie of success being too small and finite: what matters is baking more pie.
Women have it hard enough as it is without us getting in each other’s way with petty jealousy. There are a few things you can do right now to increase opportunities for all women and start building each other up.
Check Your Emotions
It is OK to be jealous of another woman or her success. I repeat, it is ok to experience jealousy. You know why? Because you’re a human and your emotions are valid. Where this goes wrong: when you’re behaving in a spiteful manner or thinking that her success stands in the way of yours.
Being honest with your emotions is hard: if you’re admitting that you’re jealous of another woman, you’re admitting that you might have let yourself down, or played smaller than you’d like to admit. Think about it: when do we feel jealousy? I have a “friend” that whenever I accomplish something, she turns it into a competition piece where she immediately seeks out to one up me. It’s the weirdest thing – I’ll do something, be excited about it, and then she’ll tell me how she’s doing this thing that’s “almost the same but a little bigger!” as she recently put it. I know the root of that behavior is some weird jealousy, and I’d be lying if I said I never felt the same with another woman.
That being said, reframing your thoughts if you are competitive is fairly easy: compete against yourself. Think about where you were a week, a month or a year ago: how much stronger are you now? How much stronger could you be in a week, month, or year if you stopped thinking about someone else and started putting that energy towards yourself? Be selfish for a bit!
Hold the Door Open
When you get to the shiny space of accomplishment, no matter what it is, hold the door open for other women that are up and coming. Too often I see women get to powerful or impressive positions, and when they could be ushering more women in to join them for world domination, they slam the door because they don’t want to be replaced.
That attitude of scarcity leads to a culture of scarcity.
You are the best version of you! No one, I repeat, no one can replace that. You’re an incredibly sparkly supernova of awesomeness, and wouldn’t it be great if you brought in more supernovas of awesomeness and your career or field or office was filled with awesomeness?
Hold the door open for folks that are on the same path – there’s only one you.
I Shine, You Shine
Shine Theory, originally coined by Anne Friedman and Aminatou Sow, is the idea that impressive women should befriend other impressive women: if one woman shines her light on another, and that woman shines her light on the first, you’ve got a doubly shiny light of impressive. This isn’t to say that you should befriend women only because they make you look better. This is to say you can take those feelings of jealousy and turn them into admiration!
And always, always remember: we’re always stronger together.