A lot hinges on our relationships and interactions with people around us: our energy, motivation, direction, choices, perspectives. That’s why it’s important we build solid, positive, fruitful and invigorating relationships around us. And cut our ties to those who take away from our life:
- The overlookers – we shouldn’t ever be made to feel worthless by those close to us. We shouldn’t ever be consistently ignored, excluded and belittled. We shouldn’t be constantly taken for granted. Although our self-worth should foremost come from within ourselves, relationships with others should nonetheless make us feel valued and appreciated.
- The nay-sayers – those around us shouldn’t distract us from where we want to go, with doubts, negativity, or self-importance. Our loved ones should encourage and push us forward, no matter how much they do not understand or agree with our choices. No matter how much they wish they could do the same too. Those close to us should want us to thrive.
- The game-changers – people who try to mould us into someone else or who won’t accept us for who we are will eventually be suffocating. And we shouldn’t have to change our very core principles and qualities for other people. We all have flaws and we should be able to embrace them, not escape them. We should be around people who love us for who we are.
Artists have been mocked. Actors, actresses and models have been labelled. Innovators have been doubted. Writers have been rejected. Musicians have been dropped. Anyone who works differently is outed. As she begun auditioning, Meryl Streep was told she was “ugly”. Now she is widely thought of as one of the greatest actresses of her time. In his role as a contributor for the San Francisco Examiner, Rudyard Kipling was fired for not knowing “how to use the English language”. Now he continues to be known as a successful writer.
We can’t stop what people say about us. But we can choose what we listen to. Some people are ignorant, insecure and envious. Others are kind, passionate and encouraging. Absorb the positive energy and brush off the rest. You, and you alone, know what you’re capable of. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. Just believe in yourself and show them.
People sometimes push the wrong buttons. And fiercely, anger overtakes us, jealousy engulfs us or hurt consumes us. Whilst we should never feel ashamed of these feelings, hanging onto them indefinitely only harms us. We may try to convince ourselves that these emotions only reflect other people and their character, but really they just begin to define who we are. Don’t let someone’s stupidity, insensitivity or wrongdoings pollute you. Don’t let them steal away your focus, faith, happiness and optimism. Because otherwise, it’s like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.
Expression is a powerful tool that we all possess and we shouldn’t be afraid to use it. Our expression defines who we are. We should feel comfortable expressing our sadness or anxiety as well as our achievements and happiness. We should be brave enough to express what we believe in and stand by it. We should never forget to express our gratitude and happiness for others. Expression shouldn’t be a weapon muddled with hatred or jealousy. We shouldn’t be using our words to bring others down or place people in a negative light. We shouldn’t be expressing ourselves in a way that invalidates or manipulates others. Our expression illustrates who we are. So find expression in your toolkit and use it with good intentions. We’re trying to fix the world, not break it.
Being able to be happy for someone else’s success and pleasures in life illuminates our own feelings about success and happiness and also the possibilities of our own success and happiness. We don’t have to always agree with everybody’s choices in life, but if we cannot be happy for somebody else, we are living in the world of negativity and lack. We constantly are comparing our lives to someone else’s and punishing them through our behaviour, because we are insecure about our own level of success and happiness. Perhaps we don’t believe in ourselves, don’t believe that we can get to a similar level of success and happiness, so we try to brush it off. If we cannot be happy for someone else, then we will never be satisfied or happy with our own achievements. We need to understand that success and happiness is different for everyone. Although we might be jealous of someone’s accomplishments, we may have a different yet very equal set of achievements. Similarly, we might find happiness and success in different roads that can never be compared, but are still equally as important. We can be jealous of somebody’s life and admire them at the same time. We can be happy for them without compromising our own happiness. We can still reach higher and higher whilst helping others achieve their dreams too.
It seems to be natural for us to always compare ourselves to others. Our happiness in times of our own success seems to be determined by the success and failure of other people. One minute we are proud of ourselves; the next we feel disillusioned and deflated because we caught a glimpse of somebody else’s success, and our’s doesn’t seem as good in comparison. Why is this? Why do we measure our own worth against somebody else, somebody with a completely different brain and set of skills and set of accomplishments and set of life choices? And then to top it all of, the idea of what someone deserves comes into play. We worked harder and we sacrificed more time and leisure, and that person still came out on top. But the question to ask is, did we try to achieve success for other people and what they think or did we do it for ourselves and for what we think? Maybe taking that perspective will help us move past the comparing, the jealousy, the competition. Maybe if we strip away the other people and focus on our own goals and standards, we will learn to congratulate ourselves and be happy for ourselves and for others in times of success.
Over the past couple centuries, women have fought for a better future for current and new female generations. Nowadays, it can be easy to take the changes these phenomenal women made for granted, and actually find ourselves regressing from the paths they have opened up for us.
One of the most significant developments in women’s history was obtaining the right to vote. And this didn’t come instantly; in the UK, the women’s suffragette movement began in late 19th century, and it wasn’t until the First World War (1914-18) that they made legislative progress. Along the way, suffragettes created organisations, went on hunger strikes, pursued radical lobbying and suffered subsequent imprisonment. But women’s equality was not limited to this. Other advancements include campaigning for women to be able to go to university, able to obtain divorce and keep the children, and for equal employment opportunities and benefits. Equality to men in the latter is something that women are still fighting for and legal acts instigating it are only recent. In the UK, the number of women in chief-executive and managing director positions was only 14.5% in 2012, but saw a rise of 25% from 2011 (according to the Telegraph). In America, women hold only 4.2% of CEO positions in the Fortune 500. Whether properly proved or not, its frequently suggested that women and young females rival male intelligibility in all ages. We, as a collective body, have so much potential to achieve, for both ourselves and other women.
Yet it has somehow become intrinsic in our nature that we are jealous and competitive towards other women. This can be from attractiveness to attention to employment or schoolwork. Insecure females make themselves feel better by criticising other women. Females who want something another woman has ends up criticising them out of jealousy.
I’m not saying that all competition is bad; we should expect more from ourselves and challenge ourselves and not let people walk all over us. But at the same time we should embrace and praise other women’s achievements, even if we wish we could be in their position. Instead we should be happy for them and aspire to be like those women who have what we want. We shouldn’t develop a bad reputation for women with petty jealousy and criticism. By learning to praise other women, we can keep the journey for the power of women progressing that many women have previously paved for us, and continue to pave it for future generations.