Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Women Are Already Good Enough #1: Be A Team

On Tuesday November, 3, 2015, I had the privilege of attending, You're Already Good Enough, a free conference put on by the Utah Women and Leadership Project. They've had a few of these over the past year, and this is the second one I've attended. The first was about more confident speaking which I wrote about here. This one was all about how Utah and the United States have an unhealthy fascination with perfection that leads to unhappiness, mental health issues, eating disorders, and a myriad of other problems. The conference was a panel of 5 women, Drs. Susan Madsen, Julie de Azevedo-Hanks, Kris Doty, Julie Clark, and Ruth Gerritsen-McKane, and they discussed a variety of women's issues regarding perfectionism in our culture. 

A lot of what they say applies directly to the Utah culture fueled by Mormonism, but I'm sure other highly religious areas will have similar issues. A link to the full panel discussion video is at the bottom of this post. Grab some snacks, and your sisters, mom, grandmas, aunts, daughters and girlfriends and get together to watch it. There were men in the audience, so feel free to invite them, too! I left that night feeling empowered, and appreciative of all the women in my life. I'll be sharing my favorite topics from the conference in a series of posts.  


Seriously, ladies, why are we all competing with each other? It feels like in our day and age, with all the women's rights movements and equality rallying, we should be far enough advanced to realize that we should work together as women, not against each other, but that isn't the case in a lot of circumstances. 

At my last job, I managed a department of women, and I have to say, sometimes it was downright awful. Not to say that they weren't all great people, but there was one particular girl in the department that was prone to catty behavior, clique-forming, and talking behind other's backs. It was very much the crabs in the bucket scenario. Someone would do well, and she would find a way to pull them back into the bucket either by complaining about them, or icing them out. These women weren't teenagers. They were adults, mothers, wives and it was sad to see this mentality play out. We were a group of women that got a LOT done in a difficult atmosphere, and instead of joining together to form lasting friendships, we just did our jobs and went home not really unified. It was a shame that for a while, one woman would bring such a negative atmosphere to the group.

One of the doctors in the panel mentions that in her experience within cultures outside of our western ways, women are confused by our ways of competition with one another. In other cultures, women join together, and help each other with life. They work as a team, instead of picking off the weak. 

I experienced similar situations in a lot of my apartments in college. Some collections of roommates would get along just like best friends, and we'd all hang out and do everything together. Home felt like "home". A place where you could go to be built back up after the world chipped away some of our strength. Other apartments I lived in felt like walking into the crossfire. Girls would team up against another roommate, and fights would break out or feelings would get hurt. I spent most of my time away from my apartment until I could find a better, more uplifting atmosphere. 

I actually remember, after a month at my first college apartment, I called home to vent to my mom. "Mom, I hate living with this many girls. They are mean." I'd never experienced this type of atmosphere before. I have five brothers, and a sister who just doesn't have a mean-spirited bone in her body.  Our home atmosphere was nothing like living in an apartment with six eighteen year old girls. I couldn't comprehend how to be a successful person surrounded by so much negativity. Life is too short to spend it being pulled back into buckets with miserable people. Life is too short to be a miserable crab pulling others down into your bucket. Sadly, for a while in college, I also became a bucket crab in some of my living situations.

Sometimes this female competition looks like something as simple as trying to dress similarly to each other. How often have we met up to get ready for an outing with friends and said or thought something like, "Oh no, you're more dressed up than I am, I'll change." "Everyone here dresses so fancy, I need new shoes I think, mine are all too casual." These are silly little things that we do, that we don't need to do! We are good enough no matter how dressed up we are. We are good enough even if our friend has "better" clothes than we do. Who really dictates what's better anyway? The media? Designers? Magazines? Who are they to tell you what's right and what's wrong, what's best and what sucks, what makes you cool or not? They are just entities. You make your own rules, here, you can choose to listen to theirs, or choose your own path and be happy. You can learn to love and welcome others instead of trying to compete with them for what is "best". Best is a relative term, anyway. 

One of the doctors in the panel mentions the "Ladder vs. Field" analogy. On the field, we're all equals and each person plays an integral part for the team. When you're on a ladder, you have to climb over people to get to the top. We need to focus more on thinking of our female peers as members of our team on a field, and not so much a ladder. There's room for all of us here. We all have work to do that is vital to this life.

If you're one of the bucket crabs, stop. Realize that you need us just as much as we need you. A puzzle isn't complete if a piece is missing. There's no need for tearing down other women on your way to the top, there's no need for mean behavior. We are all have similar dreams when you narrow it down to the basics. Let's help each other get there.
We're all fellow travelers on this road of life. We're all trying to do the best we can for our lives. We need to help each other over the hurdles instead of racing to the finish line. It doesn't matter who gets there first. We're all pieces of a big puzzle, shaped and colored differently, but necessary for the puzzle to be complete. We need your puzzle piece. Be you.

You are already good enough. 

For more information on the Utah Women and Leadership Project, and to get information on upcoming events: CLICK HERE

If you have any comments or ideas on this topic, please share below. I'd love to discuss this with any of you. I was so uplifted by this conference, I wish all of you had come with me! 

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