“I am sure there is Magic in everything, only we have not sense enough to get hold of it and make it do things for us.” ― Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret GardenTweet It!
Admittedly, celebrating other women has not always been easy for me. I never wanted to tear anyone down and I consider myself genuinely supportive but for much of my life, when presented with the talents and accomplishments of other women - friends, family, colleagues, even strangers - I found myself discrediting and downplaying instead of fully encouraging and celebrating. Eeesh.
I’d give a solid “Yay! That’s awesome!” or “You’re doing so well!” but underneath it all simmered an “Ugh, why you and not me?” or “What makes you so special?” Which ultimately lead to some “Well, she only got there because she had XYZ” or “I’m sure for XYZ reason, it won’t last.” Then I’d feel a little better about myself - until the next time I was faced with a talented, accomplished woman. Which, was/is (fortunately) quite often.
After I’d feel better, I’d feel terrible, and the cycle would continue. Why couldn’t I just be happy for other women? Or even just appreciate them and their talents? Or let them be great?
There wasn’t one specific moment that pushed me to understand the roots of my reaction (vs. a loving, positive reaction) to other women but but rather a string of frustrations and discoveries.
Through quiet contemplation, self reflection, venting, ranting and journaling, I realized a few things:
- I see a part of myself in them - We are all human, we are all women. In the best ways this makes us feel closer, stronger, supported. In the worst ways it makes us feel challenged, envious, jealous. I found myself caught in: we are all women, why is your life better than mine?
- I thought there was a winner - Maybe competition is innate and arguably healthy in some instances but to consider perceived accomplishments or successes as measurable wasn’t serving me. By comparing my accomplishments to the accomplishments of other women, I was creating and competing in a race that couldn’t be won - by anyone.
- I struggle with insecurity - This is not the biggest factor nor is it the smallest. Very simply: the way I see myself greatly impacts the way I receive others. My sense of self-worth had been flimsy at best so when I felt confident and beautiful, I loved that other people were confident and beautiful but when I felt lost or confused, I wanted other people to be lost and confused too, especially other women.
- I needed to find my voice - I’m an introvert by nature and in my personal and professional lives I’ve most always been in the quiet, supporter role. I felt comfortable there, I even still enjoy it, but the more I embraced a muted space, the easier it was to feel forgotten or unaccomplished. I didn’t want to impose on others or be boisterous in any way but, I did need to turn up the volume.
- I want to be celebrated - The last and least obvious discovery for me. I don’t generally like being the center of attention and I’m mostly shy in public settings but it always feels SO GOOD to be acknowledged, promoted, celebrated. When I got positive feedback from work or for helping someone do something, I felt empowered and recharged. But, the feeling was short-lived because I didn’t always believe the praise and didn’t feel like it happened enough, so I didn’t feel so compelled to celebrate others.
Making the Shift
One of the first things that helped me embrace the goodness of other women was writing letters. I’d address the letter to the woman looming in my mind, acknowledge her presence, explain my feelings and sometimes even ask for her help in redirecting my energy. We are all human, we are all women and writing these letters helped me to connect with the compassionate energy we all share.
I never sent or shared these letters but each one was a chance for me to see my feelings and ultimately understand that they were mostly MY feelings. It also allowed me to be vulnerable in a safe space which nudged me more and more in the direction of finding my voice and challenging my insecurities.
Another thing I did was constantly refocus inward. This meant breaking some from social media, taking more time to myself (often literally just staring at the ceiling) and resetting the conditions of that race I had been trying to win. I had to turn in and figure out my own values, priorities and how I’d measure my own success.
And then I started celebrating myself. There were no parties (okay, maybe some solo dance parties) but there were (are) plenty of positive affirmations, notes to myself (most often post-its hung by my mirror), personal creative projects and a gradual shift in my own self-talk.
“Something amazing happens when we surrender and just love. We melt into another world, a realm of power already within us. The world changes when we change. the world softens when we soften. The world loves us when we choose to love the world.” ― Marianne WilliamsonTweet It!
I worked at accepting compliments, not downplaying my accomplishments, recognizing my own talents and believing people when they expressed appreciation for me. The more I loved and celebrated myself, the more space I had to connect with and celebrate others.
I can’t say that I am fully free of self-doubt or I don’t still think “God, I wish that were me!” sometimes when I see an awesome vacation picture or a successful woman-owned business but, what I understand now that I didn’t understand before is: we are all connected.
Every woman out there doing something inspiring and brilliant is a part of me. She is driving me to do something inspiring and brilliant myself. She is creating a world that I want to live in, that I want my kids to live in. She is changing what it means to be a women. She is making it easier to be a woman. She is making me proud to be a woman. And she is probably doing it because she was, at one time or another, inspired by another woman.
So instead of focusing on what she has that I don’t, or feeling like I need to compete, I choose to appreciate and celebrate the things we BOTH have. Instead of looking for ways to make her less so I feel like more, I look for ways to share, create and collaborate because it ultimately makes me much more than I can be alone. I surround myself with the talented, accomplished, powerful, beautiful, confident, inspiring women because I understand we are all human, we are all women, we are all connected and together, we are all magic.
Amy Fukuizumi is a freelance writer and creative spirit, finding her voice and sharing pieces of her story. She loves cheese, cows, gray squirrels, green beauty and feeling connected. She is crafting a life that lets her be magic every day.
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