Are We Competitors? Or, Can We Be Friends?
The moments I love the most in life are when a veil is lifted, reminding me that what I thought was true, wasn't. Just because my feelings told me one thing didn't make it so. Such was the case with Chris.
Christine Bronstein and I both had heard of each other. Numerous times. We both founded women's communities that are rooted in the SF Bay Area so it seemed we were destined to be competitors. Our names appeared simultaneously in articles and we both kept tabs on each other from a distance. Not proud of it, but I'll just come right out and admit that I was jealous of her.
In my jealousy I never wanted her failure, nor did I ever think there wasn't enough room in this city for both of us to succeed. But, nonetheless, it still put up this silly imaginary wall. It still triggered my insecurities. It still made me wonder if I was good enough, or if my company was a good enough concept. The belief that we were competitors left me feeling wary of her successes and slightly threatened by her legions of fans. It's nearly impossible to view someone as competition without also stepping into jealousy and judgment.
Competition, Jealousy & Judgment
The spiritual teacher side of me genuinely believes there is no real competition in this world for the things that matter. That there is enough love, joy, and peace in this world and that as I offer it, I will receive it. I don't have to push someone down to go up. I don't have to beat someone to feel worthy. I believe there is no one else like me in this world (or like you!) and so I trust that as we live from our authentic places that the world needs both of us doing our things differently. I can cheer for you even as I run beside you.
However, the very-real human side of me still feels threatened sometimes. In part because jealousy never feels good. I often interpret that feeling as me not being good enough or somehow feeling less-than. And of course, when we feel attacked (even by ourselves!) we defend. We then devalue the other or inflate ourselves to try to feel better. Judgments roll off our tongue. I sometimes fall for the lie that only one of us can win this race and feel "good enough."
(Note: I'm not dissing all competition-- I appreciate what I learned on the basketball court, felt motivated by sales contests that pushed me, and still love talking trash to my sister when we play games. In fact, competition is a strength that many incorporate into their lives in ways that help them excel. Rather, what I'm speaking of is our tendency to see others as opponents when they aren't, feeling as though our self-worth is tied to specific results when it never is, or believing that we have to elbow our way through life to win something that someone else told us mattered.)
Competition is a loaded word, bringing out our desire to win and be chosen, and also stirring up our insecurities and greatest fears.
- Some of us get married or have kids just so we don't feel "behind."
- Some of us count money and possessions as mile markers of our success in some race we have assigned meaning.
- As girls we've been raised to see our appearances as a way of winning attention and yielding our power, so our worth goes up and down with the scale or as we compare ourselves to those around us.
- Some of us feel threatened if we feel our kids aren't winning their metaphoric races for popularity, achievement, perfect obedience, or any other finish line we imagine, as though it reflects on our race as mothers.
- Some of us see our claws go up in the workplace, connecting our value to dollars earned, hours put in, and titles bestowed.
- Some of decide we can't be friends with her because she's beautiful ("so she must be vain") or because she makes too much money ("so she must not have the same values I have") or because any other dozens of reasons we dismiss each other because we might feel threatened or risk rejection.
We all want to feel enough. I get that. I know that feeling.
But I also know it's not in winning the race that we will ever feel enough. There will just be another race in front of you, another goal you have to reach, another win you will need in order to keep proving yourself.
There's no end until we can hold our worth right where we are today. Rather, it's in calling the race a bluff that we ironically start feeling "enough."
The Gift I Now Have
I now count Chris among my friends. And I couldn't be more proud of the work she is doing in the Bay Area for women through her network: A Band of Wives. She practices what she preaches-- creating a culture in her community that promotes one other, lifts each other up, and helps give attention and voice to all that we're each trying to do.
Kindness begets kindness. Generosity breaks down imaginary walls of division. Respecting each other makes us want to help the other succeed. Love overrides fear.
Owning my worth invites me to see it in others, realizing it's not something we win or bestow, rather just something we acknowledge. She has always been enough. And so have I. And seeing it in each other doesn't lessen it in either of us, it actually heightens our awareness of our own.
I'll have to blog sometime about the process, but for now, I can attest that I'd much rather have her as a friend, than as an imaginary competitor. I shake my head to think what we might have missed out on co-creating had we stayed in the race we thought we were running.
I challenge you today to keep stepping into the personal growth of seeing your worth. I also invite you to be someone in our GirlFriendCircles.com community that helps affirm that worth in others around you. As we acknowledge the value of others, we will genuinely feel our own more truly and be able to help them see theirs.
A veil lifted where I can see how amazing she is without it making me feel any less so. And that is a gift I wish on everyone.
p.s. Registration on the "A Band of Wives" site is free and you'll be wowed by the events they host, the groups you can participate in, and the opportunities for partnering with amazing women. It's for women of all ages, as single and married women commit to being supportive "wives" to each other. I hope to see you at some of their events.
p.s.s. Speaking of events, if you live in the Bay Area-- I hope you'll come to Sausalito on Thursday night for an "All-Kinds-of-Love Pre-Valentines Bash" hosted by A Band of Wives. I'll be guiding everyone through speed-friending so it's a perfect first event to come to for meeting the fabulous women in that community! It starts at 6 pm at Wellington's Wine Bar (300 Turney St.). There are already 70+ RSVP's so come meet up with us!