If you know me, you know my family. No one ever leaves Family Game Night not crying (my sister can vouch for me... because it's normally her or myself crying).
The world is a very competitive place, and when you add powerful females who want to make a difference, it makes it 10 times more competitive. I myself have always been in a position of some type of leadership. I grew up being the "ringleader" of all my friends, the 'bossy one,' which got me in a lot of trouble in elementary school.
I was pulled into the guidance counselors office often for "bullying" other girls when I wasn't. I was being truthful and real, which now that I'm older is encouraged, and we need female leaders. I never followed kids around the playground, I lead. I didn't give into peer pressure, I made my own decisions. Because I was the "bossy" girl growing up, I'm now not afraid to take risks and speak up when I need to be heard and I don't tolerate nonsense. Being called 'bossy' and getting in trouble for it makes young girls feel like they should be quieter and stand on the back burner, to back away from leadership roles out of fear for not being liked.
The 'most important things' were always who had the best hair, the best outfits, who could get a new tumbling skill first or, growing up a military brat, who's dad ranked higher. Looking back, I realize this is such a common cultural thing for women, someone always has the best outfits, the best grades, the ability to out-deadlift you, etc.
Funny thing for me is, I HAD to have that, or even more. Did that spark of competition help to get me where I am today though? Yes. 100 times yes. Which is why I started babysitting at the age of 12, earning money and getting my first job when I was legally able to at 16, holding two jobs at once at the age of 17, and working three jobs during my summers off from college. I put so much stress on myself, but at the end of the day, it's so worth it. That hard work ethic drove me to always strive to be the best, which meant hustling to be able to afford the best clothes and being able to go on vacation with my friends, volunteering, or getting the opportunity to study abroad and being able too. Being one step ahead.
I was fortunate enough to be told that 'I can' constantly by my family, I never felt that I couldn't do something. As a future educator, I truly believe that, as a woman, one of the most important things we can do is be a strong, fearless example for the younger generations. You have to bet on yourself.
Healthy competition inspires kids to do their best, striving to take the extra step. This was most definitely reinforced in my household and I will raise my children the same way. Having a healthy competitive environment teaches children to accept failure without losing self-esteem. If children don't learn to lose, they're going to feel entitled to win. This causes a fear of losing and prevents them from taking risks. Life is all about taking risks! Maybe I've decided to become a physical educator because of my competitive upbringing. Heck, I've never been in a sport that didn't have some type of competition. I want to have an inclusive environment where students can be themselves and have a safe place while learning about a healthier lifestyle.
When I lived in Hawaii, I was on the best high school cheer team and competitive all-star cheer team in Oahu. People knew who we were just out in public, not even in uniform. We had the best team, the best coaches, the best, most expensive uniforms, the prettiest team. We turned heads when we walked into competitions, we WERE the team to beat (we were undefeated and won States btw). Being on such an amazing team did boost my confidence a lot, walking into a competition with the attitude and constant positive self-talk. We had to be on our A-game at all times, if we messed up even in school... our coach was called by one of our teachers immediately, there were eyes everywhere.
The world is vastly male-dominated and it sets women up to compete. It's basically creating the rivalries in itself. There aren't level playing fields or equal opportunities in the workplace or even life which I think sets women up to compete. But, why do women not help each other out and be a forceful group? Building a power network to protect your reputation is important. I've met a ton of women who will stab you in the back and not help you out. Why are women like this?
But, I've had positive interactions as well, don't get me wrong. When I was at basic and I learned the term of Battle Buddies, geez, those were the most selfless women I've encountered so far. If I woke up late one morning for PT and was struggling to get ready, they'd make my bed and grab my weapon for me. During FTX, We'd both pack up her gear, and then pack up mine together to help each other out and leave the patrol base faster. I could go on and on...hands down, the best women I've met so far. Surround yourself with people who tell you that you can, and you will.
When I hear one of my friends did something outstanding, I think, "Well, she achieved this. What do I need to do, not because she has it, but because I need this in a different form." This is because, if a friend is good enough to compete with, then that should be the friend we admire and appreciate. There is always someone better than you. However, do you ever feel that you need to hide your successes from friends? Sometimes I am afraid that If I share everything I'm doing then it'll damage my friendship. However, realizing that honest competition is good for friendships and our own self-esteem makes a difference.
Girls are more concerned about doing well, and more focused on long-term life goals. Girls are more discouraged by failure and more often attribute failing to their own lack of ability. Believe it or not, girls are constantly told "they can't." Girls didn't always have the right to an education, so there is a constant pressure that girls have the right in the running. Society still isn't urging women to aim for the top and stay there, and sadly women are part of that problem, as well as the solution.
We need more strong-willed women, so counselors don't put the "bossy" girl in time out at school or send her to the office for bullying. Instead, appreciate and remind her to be kind, reframe the bossiness. Society wants strong women, but we don't raise strong girls. The "bossy" girl is now a leader, educator, and a future army officer. You can and you will. There is no limit to what we can accomplish. "God is within her, she will not fall." Psalm 46:5. Thank you, Mom and Dad, for raising a "bossy" girl.