Several weeks ago I received a friend request on Facebook from Stephanie St. Claire. I accepted her request and the same day Stephanie wrote the following message on my wall:
So, I think, “Kick-ass thing? What's this girl talking about?” Then I go to her website. Instantly I reverted back to being 15 years-old again. OMG her outfit is totally better than mine/She's prettier than me/Why didn't I say that first/She's WAY cooler than me/I should wear more make-up all the time/……
You get it. Right?
Ten seconds later I'm spinning, and I don't. Like. Her. Blah.
For a couple days I sat here. My inner-critic ruled. I stalked her website, all the while thinking that I really, really liked her style, liked her posts, and thought it was really nice of her to reach out like that. After all, she could very well have said nothing. Said nothing, and maybe I would have accidentally seen her kick-ass website, been jealous and sulked about it. I must have said, “WHAT-ever” in my mind 100 times.
Then I snapped out of it. I decided to do what I'm really good at: Be generous with friendship and tell her how I really felt; that I thought her website was all kinds of awesome and congratulate her. So I did.
And a funny thing happened. Over a very long Skype session with Stephanie I realized the power of letting my guard down. That instead of looking at other women as competition, to embrace and invite friendship and support. I always knew this in my mind and in theory it sounded great and “the right thing to do”, but to actually experience it first hand was affirming. We shared stories, drank wine, laughed our asses off , encouraged each other in our business ventures and continue to be friends today.
I remember a time in my early 20's a group of my girlfriends were in Las Vegas. Another group of girls had gathered near us and I can't remember the exact details, but an argument erupted between us and the other group. Name calling, yelling, threats, and we didn't know these girls at all. As the other group walked away, one girl in my group yelled out, “Yeah, walk away with your STUPID GREEN SKIRT!” and the girl in the green skirt flipped us the bird. We certainly showed her (*sarcasm*). But, I distinctly remember thinking, “I actually like her green skirt….”
I guarantee had we met these girls somewhere else under different circumstances, we would be friends. But, insecurity and competitiveness among girls brings about nothing but negative behavior.
If I could go back and tell my teenage self something, it would be to cut the crap of competitiveness and meanness to other girls. In reality, it goes against my inherent nature to be mean and catty, but the culture I was brought up in taught me to see other girls as a threat. I believe that to be true for many of us. So, one thing I will be teaching both of my children, but especially my daughter, is to treat other girls as allies, with respect and compassion and in initial introductions, think of other girls as friends, not enemies.
It's hard for girls growing up in today's culture. They need us and other girls to lean on, encourage them, to be positive role models and to teach them important life lessons. So the next time you're feeling insecure about another woman, what if you tried to reach out? I know every situation is different, but you just might find a new friend and the possibilities are endless. What I know to be true about love and hate is that it takes a tremendous amount of energy to hate someone that it does to love them. It's soul sucking energy.
And as for my new friend, Stephanie St. Claire. If you don't know her, you should 🙂