I can’t even tell you how many conversations I have had with this year with female friends, co-workers, students, business owners, etc. who have dealt with competition, jealously, gossip, resentment and overall lack of support among women.
I walked into my 8:10 yoga class today feeling overwhelmed and sad by this current epidemic of women tearing down women. I sat down in front of my class (which consisted of 30+ women from all walks of life and a handful of guys) and pleaded that we work together to change this.
Like yoga usually does, the class completely shifted my outlook on my day. The energy my students brought to class today was ridiculous. It was one of those classes where you feel like everyone showed up on their mat all in. They breathed, sweated, flowed and laughed together. You could literally feel the energy build in the room. They all lifted each other up. We need to do this for each other all the time.
One of my students posted on my Facebook wall after class, “Can’t stop thinking that, as women, we are often no better to each other than our 13 year old daughters…So sad.” It doesn’t have to be like this!
Does anyone remember when Starbucks put this Madeleine Albright quote on their coffee cups? I could go on for paragraphs here about how lucky we are as a society for how far we have come as women when there are so many others around the world who are still fighting for basic freedoms.
I want to talk about a couple of things here. First, the competition. There is enough opportunity in this world for everyone. I strongly believe that when you support others in their efforts, good will come back to you. Doors will open. You will receive abundance. I have so many real life examples that I could share that demonstrate the power of this but it’s been my experience that those people and organizations who openly support others (even when they’re in competing lines of business) are always the winners. Thinking from the place of “there’s only room for one of us” is extremely limiting.
Second, jealousy and gossip. You know that quote about people not being happy with their own lives if they spend so much time talking about others? I think there’s some truth to it. What is it that we need to change about our own lives so that we can stop focusing so much on the lives of others? If we took the energy that is devoted to negativity, jealousy and gossip and put it towards our own personal happiness and passions as well as supporting the happiness and passions of others, where would that get us? I want to believe that would be somewhere a lot better than how it feels to be trapped in a vicious circle of drama and gossip.
So where am I going with all of this? I’m not really sure yet but I want to start a community mindset of women supporting women. I would be lying flat out if I said I wasn’t guilty of everything I listed above but when I’m acting from those places I feel really icky and guilty and shameful. It’s not like I think we’re going to live in this blissful society of butterflies, rainbows and hugs. That would feel icky too. I love it when my girlfriends challenge me and call me out but you can totally tell when it’s authentic and because they want me to grow and be my best.
I’m going to put more thought around this but here’s what I’m going to do immediately. I’m going to start supporting other women in ways that I show it. I am extremely fortunate to have a generous audience of mostly female readers so I’m going to start telling you about some of the AMAZING things that other women are doing. I want this not to be blogger or Charlotte specific but broad scale. I want to share stories about women that I have a personal connection with who are kicking ass and doing great things. Business owners, moms, athletes, volunteers…I can already think of a long list in my head of topics to get started with.
– A woman who is working to bring the Charlotte yoga community together while also working to create social change to help end hunger
– A woman who is a successful local personal trainer who is expanding and launching a great new website
– A woman who followed her dream to open a barre studio even though the road wasn’t easy
– A woman who took the plunge to leave her corporate job and is now managing an entire territory of yoga studios and their growth and development
– A woman who was diagnosed with breast cancer and lost her mother to cancer in the span of a few months and is working to become a personal trainer to help other women look and feel their best
– A woman who launched her own jewelry business to follow her creative passion and is now receiving national recognition for her work
– A woman who has braved the storm of opening an online boutique and everything that comes with the first year of being a small business owner
– A woman who left a “dream job” that wasn’t fulfilling her to open her own culinary business and is now thriving teaching cooking classes and working as a professional chef
I could keep going. And if you or someone you know has a story to share about women kicking ass, email me.
Women are doing amazing things everywhere if we choose to open our eyes and see them.
Great food for thought, Jen. Thanks fo rposting. Though, looking over your list of women, I do want to chime in on behalf of women in corporate world…that can be following your passion too! And even if it’s not, I think it’s still a valuable to be supportive of the idea that women in all professional realms — those who’ve taken the scary, amazing plunge to leave a stable job for an uncertain and/or new field and those making way in the “safety” of corporate America — are to be encouraged and appaulded for boldness and influence. Of course, I don’t mean in any way to imply that you meant otherwise! I realize the list reflects people who, as you said, you have a personal connection with. Part of what drew me to your blog (and keeps me coming back everyday!) is my profound admiration and respect for your passion boldness and commitment to chasing down your passion, taking the reins and channeling it to carry you through life like a stallion. I’m sure I imagine that I live vicariously through you quite often! 🙂 Thank you for sharing!
i totally agree with you! i know some pretty inspirational women who are kicking ASS in the corporate world. my childhood dream was to be an international business major, speak french and travel the world in the corp world! (still an alluring thought!)
LOVE this post. Thank you for sharing it! You deserve a big pat on the back for opening eyes to this problem and putting the bug in everyone’s ear!
I LOVE this post. As women we should be working together and building one another up instead of tearing each other down. This world doesn’t go easy on anyone, and if we are against each other it will just make it worse! You never know the battle people are facing in life – so be kind!
I so agree… and I feel like women tearing each other down has gotten worse since I had children. Maybe it’s just that I ignored it before. I don’t know. Now, though, I see it frequently, women being attacked before the child is born for wanting to have an epidural, or not have an epidural; for their decision to work or to stay at home once the baby arrives; to vaccinate or not to vaccinate; to let their child ride a school bus or not; to let children participate in sports / clubs / etc or not, etc., etc.
Whether we are a parent or not, each of us is doing what we believe and think is best for us / our family at that moment in time. I wish we could all just keep that in mind. We don’t have to agree with each other – but we can be respectful when we disagree!
(And yes, I am also guilty of not being supportive of other women. I’m a work in progress!)
My advisor in grad school was incredible. Not only was she one of the most successful professors in the department, she worked to become tenured, received more research grants than anyone in the school of engineering, published countless papers and mentored the largest research group, she is a wife and mom to three young kids. I work in a chemical plant as a chemical engineer-one of the few women in the field as well as the location I work in. I wouldn’t be where I am today without my advisor. I hope to continue to do outreach to encourage other women to pursue science/technology/engineering/math degrees!
This was wonderful. Since being a mom I have received so much negativity from other women (even some in my OWN family) that it’s insane. Anyways you are wonderful and I cannot to read more of the amazing things you have coming!
Its so funny you say this because i had the opposite thought when reading this. I’m chldfree by choice and feel like i get a lot of flack about it from other women. From the “you can stay late at work you have no kids” to the “wow it must be nice to have so much free time”. Of course both of us are just following our own path. I’m sure having kids is right for you and i say good for you and probably you say the same for me. My point is that we all have such unique experiences and it just seems like women can find issue with anything that another woman does but overlook so much about men. we have such high expectations of ourselves and our fellow women. I feel like sometimes it comes from insecurities. Women are more insecure and for some reason if another woman is not the “ideal” as we see it (or is different from us) we take that to be against what we are doing and in order to feel better about our personal choices we have to tear down others personal choices ? I’m probably not articulating this properly but I’m sure you get my drift. Jen is right….lets focus more on our own lives and be happy that we have so many choices now that we didn’t back then. We need daily reminders that our way is not the only way or the right way…its just our way !!!
wow. I am kind of at a loss for words. Not very often does a blog post make me take a step back and just think about things like this one has done. Yet another reason why I love following your blog…
I enjoy reading your blog everyday! It really is the highlight of my day/night. I wanted to say THANK YOU for posting about this idea of yours. I would love to read about other women and I am going to start taking this into consideration for myself. I believe as women we get so caught up in trying to “one-up” each other because for so long we feel inferior to each other. But in reality, we should change our thinking and remind ourselves we need to be SUPERIOR to OURSELVES and ONLY ourselves! This has been a huge change in my thinking because I was constantly trying to be “just like the others” and compare what I could do (whether that’s fitness, food, job, etc.) to every other woman, but I just need to BE ME and BE MY BEST!!!
I think your jewelry maker is Erin… I love her stuff too and love that she’s from my hometown. Another kick ass girl from Charlottesville is Dickie Morris – at justalittleditty.com She’s kicking butt and taking names in the event business! Check her out 🙂
I agree that women should support women–but it’s also sometimes the opposite of your examples; i.e. women who stopped working out so much when they realized it was hurting their relationships or their bodies, or women (like me, granted) who moved from starting their own passions to working at well-established non-profits because they saw the inherent value in joining a worthy cause instead of starting a competing company that would need resources from the existing donor base. All forms of trying to make the world a better place are maybe equally worthy, and specifically supporting women outside of mainstream jobs alienates a huge group of hardworking and well meaning workers. Maybe it would be worthwhile to think about them as well.
my list of topics/things women were doing was not exhaustive. i tried to touch on the point you bring up with the volunteer piece. also, it is not my intention to alienate those with mainstream jobs so i apologize if it came off that way to you. i just had coffee with a friend today who went back to nursing school after having children because she identified that working in a hospital in the field of health and wellness was the path she wanted to take and i fully support her in that. i have many, many female friends who are working in the “mainstream” business world who are thriving, happy and doing amazing things as well.
I love this post and feel so strongly about everything you are saying. I’d love to be a part of your network of strong, supportive women and help you in any way I can. I added the “personal development” part to my blog because I think it’s so important we all make a more conscious effort to be better people and be better to one another. I also believe yoga, and being healthy in general, helps make both easier.
I LOVE THIS. Women need to uplift each other more! As a mom, I see this A LOT in the mom blog community in arguments on staying home, working, breastfeeding, cloth diapering, EVERYTHING. It’s nuts.
I couldn’t agree more! There’s such a culture of casual meanness right now, in general, not just amongst women. I really enjoy the messages of bloggers/FB pages like Fit Mama Training, who is trying to break this cycle. And I’m thrilled that you’re doing the same!! xo
Hi Jen…met you in Y2 Yoga this morning with my dear friend Hannah. Hooray for your post! Horray for women supporting and encouraging each other! Life is too short to bring each other down…so much better to build one another up. I am a huge proponent of cheerleading for each other and truly believe there is room for everyone. Also believe in surrounding ourselves with women who share their passions in life…no matter the area…just using our gifts and talents to bless others and enrich lives. Many thanks for touching on this and hope to see you again soon in yoga class! Blessings, Caroline
I really love and appreciate this post. I always think there can’t be enough love and support to go around in the world.
Again, this post was great soul food 🙂
I’ve also just started getting into fitness and am training for my first marathon next year (what have I gotten myself into?!) and stumbled across your site. Hope to find lots of useful info! 🙂
you rock & you are one of the most supportive women i have met in charlotte! thank you for being who you are – you bring such great energy to so many women and inspire us everyday to be ourselves and to follow our dreams.
This was just what I needed today. Thanks!