We are blessed to be living in a great time for the empowerment of women. The progress and opportunities are huge. The growth is significant. The focus on women supporting women, coming together, helping each other succeed is refreshing beyond anything I ever encountered “growing up” in the corporate world. All that said, we still have a problem that is often only discussed behind closed doors, one on one, or in small groups. And that’s the heartbreak and betrayal that women have when another woman is mean, combative, unsupportive and truth is outright disrespectful towards another woman regarding her life choices. Even worse is when those behaviors come at us, unexpectedly, from people we care about and trust.
I have watched behaviors like this always , it starts young and continues into adulthood for so many. The difference in the last 3 years is I am watching with a whole new set of eyes, eyes that have been opened in a way they never were before. I am not proud of this, but in the past these behaviors fell into a certain bucket for me, a bucket of ”oh well, that’s just the way it is’ bucket.’ Not now, not anymore. The only real conversations I have been part of about how damaging this behavior can be has also been behind closed doors. I have heard countless stories from friends whom have been treated terribly by other women. Teased. Made fun of. Snarky, passive aggressive remarks. Some to their face. Some behind their back. Some on social media. Some straight out blunt, mean and rude comments. It comes from family members and friends. This behavior does not discriminate. And it’s even acquaintances. It’s a bit mind-blowing if I am fully honest. Mind-blowing that others feel it’s their place to make their judgmental and not so nice comments for all to see. Yes, I have had it happen directed straight at me in all of the ways that I just described. In my own experience I justified it away. Not proud of that either. Initially I thought I am being too sensitive or imagining things or overthinking a comment or a facial expression. I thought was that meant as a dig? Were they making a joke? Are they making fun of me? Newsflash. Yes, they were. And I woke up. No, I am not too sensitive and yes, my feelings and your feelings should be hurt. No, their behavior is not ok. And yes, you should walk away.
I know this topic will make some people uncomfortable and even mad. For the good of all women, I am taking my chances. This is a problem in the world of women everywhere. Working out of the home, working in the home, at home working at raising kids which doesn’t pay a dime, not having kids, having 8 kids, it doesn’t matter. It’s all women. And it’s time someone, in my circle of life that is, stand up and say I see you. I am onto you. And what you are doing is not ok. In the spirit of not being a fraud, here is why I am speaking up. This is why I can’t stay silent any longer. This week I had a text from a friend about how a woman in her network was treating her. And then she said this, and I quote,
“Thanks for talking it out. I feel like you are so grounded when it comes to this and I still am such a work in progress.”
Ouch. I have been thinking of this all week. Because I am not those things. I am just like her. Just like everyone else. I am human, I have feelings that have been and continue to be hurt by this behavior and I don’t let it roll off my back as easily as might be perceived or as I would like to. And this, writing this, is part of that process. For me, for you, for my daughter and her generation that can do better. If we break the cycle and show them the way.
I don’t have all the answers on how to stop this. Awareness is a step. Accountability is needed. Easier said than done, I know. But here is one thing I know for sure, without one ounce of doubt. Women that behave this way….It is 100% about them. I know because I used to be a version of them, and when I was it was 100% about me and my own issues, my insecurities, my jealousy. And now, as is the boomerang of life, I am now a victim of the same. While I didn’t make the hurtful comments on social media, and I didn’t openly criticize or judge others life choices, I did do it, inside of me and absolutely with a facial expression or two, or three that made my judgement and disapproval very clear.. Passively aggressively of course. I judged when I didn’t understand. I criticized things that made me uncomfortable. I focused on things about others that made me envious or jealous, because deep down I wanted what they had but didn’t even have the self awareness to know it or the self esteem and confidence to go after it!
When self awareness is hard to find, and self love is lacking, it is hard to take a step back and see how our behavior towards others is really a reflection of how we see and feel about ourselves. Others jealousy is a refection on them. Others criticism and judgement is a reflection on them. Others rude remarks, passive aggressive behaviors or even their need to control you, slow down your growth or discourage your dreams, is all about them. Positively, some will come around. I certainly did. But there may be some that don’t and you can’t change that, no matter how hard you justify, hope or try. So I encourage you, no I plead with you, do not let these women stop you. Do not let their issues, that have nothing whatsoever to do with you, do not let them stop you from pursuing dreams and opportunities that can better your life. Do not let them stop you from the growth inside that is yearning to come out. Do not let them stop you from becoming the best version of you that you have always been meant to be. I guarantee you these things.. You are not alone in this. There are more women on the side of encouraging, supporting and empowering you than there are on the dark side. Walk away from the ones that bring you down, instill self doubt and want you to play small so that they look bigger, brighter and better. But mostly know that you’ve got this and that you can and will come out better on the other side.