Doesn’t the old adage say, innocent until proven guilty? Well, I am guilty as charged! Take me away. Not only am I guilty, but I’m a repeat offender.
What’s the charge? Comparing myself to other women. Whether it’s their looks, their careers, their parenting style or the type of car they drive, I have this overwhelming need to compare my accomplishments to those of others.
And why? Why must I measure my success against the successes of others? I haven’t quite figured out the answer to this question, but I’m finding new and productive ways to cope with it.
Another familiar phrase from my childhood was, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”. My mother told me this when a little girl from summer camp bought the same pink gel shoes I had and again when a classmate joined Girl Scouts only after finding out that I had joined. But when you’re young, you don’t see it as a compliment. You see it as annoying! I remember thinking - that girl is a copy-cat and I don’t like it. Make her stop.
But, as with most things our parents tell us that we choose to ignore at the time, my mother’s words were true - at least for me. I envy the accomplishments of many strong women in my life and am blessed to know as many as I do. And instead of putting down their success, I try to find inspiration in it.
There’s no need to copy them. No need to try to be exactly like them. I simply try to identify the characteristics of their personality and life that I want to see reflected in my own.
I ask myself, “What about this beautiful, driven women draws me to her?”
Take my one friend for example. She is extremely passionate about health and fitness. She is a fitness coach for others and is studying to become a personal trainer. All while working full-time, raising two beautiful girls, and being a doting wife. I often think, how does she do it?
She is beyond dedicated. She commutes to her office every day, which includes driving and taking a train. But she still makes time for herself. She wakes up at 3:30 every morning to get her workouts in. She posts them on social media, inspiring and motivating hundreds of others. This beautiful and busy woman is still there for her friends and her family.
So there’s no question as to what I envy about this person. Her drive, her willpower, her passion, and her discipline. Those are all attributes I want for myself. So instead of putting her down to make myself feel better or convincing myself of all the reasons I can’t do what she does, I will internalize those desires and alter my behavior to make them my own.
One more example.
Another mother and wife with children ranging in age from 7 to 12. She was once a working mother. Her children attended daycare. From the outside, they looked like a typical family. But inside her burned a creative desire that she couldn’t extinguish.
My friend is an extremely talented jewelry maker. The hand-stamped pieces she creates are unconventional and meaningful. She began doing it on the side, in her spare time. (Because we know mother’s have so much of that!) But she soon realized that this was more than just a hobby. Her dream was to create this jewelry not just for family and friends but for hundreds of people across the country. And with the support of her husband and family, she did just that.
She researched the market, found out how to promote her unique jewelry brand - who would buy it? How should she price it? How many employees would she need? Her business started off small and slow but after just five years, she’s already made her first million. She now has a store front and her jewelry is sold on Etsy and other online platforms.
Instead of saying, “I don’t have the money to start a company”, or “her husband has a good job to support her business”, I will take away all the positivity I can from her experience and journey. What about this amazing businesswoman’s story can I use to better myself? Her patience, her willingness to take risks, her confidence, and her work ethic. Those are all things I am more than capable of finding within myself.
So as I continue to better myself as a person, wife, mother, and friend, I honor and praise the strengths of women around me, instead of tearing them down. I won’t compare myself to them anymore, but instead use them as a source of inspiration. I am in control of my own destiny and that means making change happen for myself.
We can all find qualities in others that we admire. Instead of wishing to be someone else, let’s transform ourselves into someone we’re proud to be!