This morning I was driving to work, windows down music up, and Beyonce’s ‘Flawless’ began to play. I was singing along (badly I might add) and it got to the part where Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's quote begins. While I have heard this song hundreds of times, today this portion of the song really stuck out to me… “We teach girls to shrink themselves to make them smaller. We say to girls “You can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful… We raise girls to each other as competitors” This song and the quote stem from a call to feminism in relation to our equality struggle with our male counterparts, but what I think isn’t highlighted enough is the competitive struggle between females.
There is an epidemic among women and it is jealousy, gossip, criticism, insecurities and hatred. I find myself constantly competing with other women in my day to day life: for boys, for friendships, for success, and let’s be real, for likes on Instagram. Through social media I view how other people portray their life and I find myself questioning my own success and self-worth based on what I see from others and honestly, it’s exhausting.
Why do I care so much about who likes her pictures? Why do I pick my outfits out to try and look better than her? Why do I think that if she gets the better grade that I am any less intelligent? Why do I think that if the cute boy talks to me I am in any way better than her? It’s not healthy, this competitive mindset we have developed trying to be better than others, because in the process we have become so critical of ourselves that we are losing track of who we are and what we can achieve.
You know what girl I should be competing with? Myself. I should be kicking my own rear end every day that I am not trying to be better than I was the day before. I should be challenging myself to do one more set of abs than I did the last time I was in the gym, even if it was a month ago (whoops). I should be forcing myself to start that paper a day early, or preferably not the day before it is due. I should expect myself to constantly be lifting other women up instead of indirectly trying to tear them down. Imagine how much power we could have if women encouraged each other to be more successful.
We could empower each other to celebrate the not so great times in life rather than criticize for them. We could help each other pursue the goals that are hard to reach by yourself. But most importantly we could have the opportunity to create an environment where women flourish in confidence rather than hide behind insecurities. Do we not realize that we are each so special in our own way and each one of us was put on this earth for our own unique journey? Your story is so different and it is most certainly not worthy of comparison to someone else’s.