Photography: George Rockett / Edit & Words: Zoe London
I know you might think she is, but that girl is not your competition.
For reason beyond our control, for decades they’ve been trying to get us to pit ourselves against each other. As women, we’re always made to feel like those around us are direct competition to us. But that model on the billboard, the blogger always on the beach on instagram and the colleague that sits at the desk next to you are not your competition, and they never will be.
We’re in a bit of a weird time at the moment where we’re riding a wave of faux feminism, which can actually sometimes do more harm than good. Messages being thrown around everywhere telling us girl power and to support your local girl gang are ace, but when they become so commonplace they lose meaning, we lose sight of what it means to not be at competition with each other, and end up back at square one. With that in mind it’s often hard to write sincere words about women and competition against each other without seemingly from the outside appearing to add to the same notion. I’m not really much of a wordsmith but today i’m just going to try and summarise how I feel about this, as bluntly as I can. Because i’m not sure the message is going to get across otherwise.
At one point or another, we’ve fallen victim to it.
Look, i’m not here to make you feel guilty for pitting other women as competition, because at some point in our lives we’ve all indirectly done it. In the office, it often feels more heightened than ever. I’ve heard stories upon stories of nightmare bosses, who while rising up the ranks themselves, have belittled and caused hell for those below. Why? When failing to see their own achievement more than likely as a result of insecurity makes them believe the colleague below them is a threat to their job, more than likely implemented into their psyche by how male dominated the office can often be, they may lash out at other women viewing them as competition. Instead of focusing on how incredible it is they have risen up the ranks, we’re made to believe that someone else – another female – is always waiting to steal and take away what we have. It’s simply not the case.
More so than recently i’ve begun to view this completely differently. Consider this my resignation letter from the competition. I’m not running at a pace I can’t deal with anymore just to keep up with someone who does have the stamina to go on in the race. We’re all running our own races, our own paths, and we all unfortunately succumb to the same end in life, and we need to detach ourselves from focusing on the other races that are happening around us, and instead become cheerleaders for those ahead of us.
Envy really is the thief of joy.
There is always going to be another woman you envy. Always. Always, always always. There never wont be. And you’ll look at them and think they have nothing to envy, but in reality they are envious of someone else, too. We can’t switch off that trait. But it’s about viewing and working with that differently, instead of viewing other women as our direct competitors, believing that you can’t do something just because they can and have achieved it, be inspired by them. Shout and rally for them. A lot of incredible women now run their own successful business, in areas we were taught as kids that men dominated. Look at me, I essentially, if you break it down, run an online business. Tech, computers and complex website coding algorithms. An industry dominated by men. But guess what, not only do I do this, but so do hundreds of other women – and instead of believing they are inherently a threat because they’re in the direct same business line, the moment of clarity you feel when you realise that all of these women need the support network of other women, together you can always achieve more. And you will achieve the ultimate goal: happiness.
You don’t need to go all guns blazing.
Changing your mindset on this doesn’t happen overnight. It’s probably taken me the better part of six months or so to really shake myself out of it, and realise that the women around me really are not my competition. Of course i’m still envious of some things people do, but i’ve shifted my mindset completely from being ‘why isn’t that me’ to ‘wow what an incredible opportunity’, and when you realise that women in your industry doing the things you want to do is actually helpful and not a hinderance, it’s liberating. Of course we all want to be successful, and we all want to achieve the things we desire from life. The reality is that someone else will always be ahead of you on this, and that’s just how it will be.
Form support networks with women who also do what you do or go through what you go through, online, WhatsApp, at your local Costa – wherever. Stop viewing those with a ‘seemingly perfect’ life as the crux to your own personal unhappiness, stop viewing the women around you as your direct competition. Reach out to them, engage with them, talk to them. Chances are, they probably feel as lonely and as worried as you do, too.
What you may be viewing may actually be a portrait of how you view yourself.
I read an interesting theory that when we become envious of other women and we view them as our direct competition, we’re doing so because we see in them a portrait of ourselves. We’re seeing a view of someone who we wish we could be, someone who seems to be like us, but prettier, more successful and more desired. What it really is is almost like one of those warped mirrors at those dodgy fairgrounds where the portrait of ourselves that we look back on is all warped and messed up and wrong. It’s really a perception in our heads of what we wish to be, and we’re projecting that rather unfairly on someone else. You need to realise that in your own right, and in a normal, non warped messed up mirror, you are already incredible, and what you are achieving whilst running your own race is powerful, beautiful and just as strong as the women you see.
By stepping down from comparing yourself with others, and realising you can learn, take away and power up those around you by coming together, everyone wins. You’re already winning, but you can win even more by giving a leg up to those who will in return always pull you up with their hands, too. Women are fighting enough on this planet without needing to fight each other. I firmly believe inner peace, success and happiness is totally spring boarded by powering up with the women you previously viewed as competition. It’s never too late to change your mindset and it’s never too late to inspire each other. Some of the best ideas in the world came from women getting together over wine and fusing ideas into incredibly successful partnerships, and individual businesses. Support your local girl gang, cos they ain’t out to get you.
This post was shot on location at Seven Magic Mountains in Nevada, USA. It’s a art installation by Ugo Rondinone which symbolises a creative presence of humans in the desert. It will be on display until May 11th 2018, and for me it was a spiritual moment seeing such neon colours light up the desert. It was so powerful to see blocks of colour supporting each other and standing out beautifully against the arid desert skyline, and for me symbolised perfectly the sentiment I wanted to get across in this blog post. If you’re visiting Las Vegas it’s approximately 30 minutes out of the strip and it’s well worth the drive. Let me know what you thought in the comments!