It’s well past midnight but I’m still combing through the multiple Google tabs, looking at internships, a streak of ambition not slowing down for the late hour. It’s only when I take a break, scrolling through Instagram and coming across the one post that sent me down a rabbit hole, the one where my frenemy from high school is sharing the news of her cute and wonderful internship, do I realize that I fell into the female rivalry trap again.
No matter who you are, there’s a decent chance that you’ve competed against another girl before. It doesn’t have to be a direct competition either to count– the fact is, you’ve seen someone succeed and wonder, “Why can’t I be like that” or “Why don’t I have that?” It may be your best friend who’s absolutely crushing her classes this semester, your older sister who seems to be you but better, or even someone from years ago who doesn’t remember your name but you remember her accomplishments.
Female rivalry is an incredibly fickle thing, something that even the best and brightest just can’t avoid. It’s a deep-seated kind of envy, with maybe a twinge of self-loathing thrown in to get you started. Admit it: you don’t hate the girl who you consider your “rival”. You just hate that her accomplishments aren’t yours, and you dislike the fact that you may not have her talents in that one area.
The good news: everyone has been where you are. Everyone has felt jealous before. Everyone has felt like they’re not as good as someone else, and have felt the need to compensate for that perceived lack.
The bad news: engaging in a female rivalry isn’t fair to you or your “rival.” Focusing on the negative in yourself or trying to find reasons to hate someone else (even if they’re your best friend) will just leave you drained, miserable and lonely.
That’s not to say that you can’t turn your rivalry into something positive. You just have to see it in terms of inspiration, not jealousy.
It takes a bit of work, but you can turn rivalry into empowerment and inspiration. Just remember that it starts first with you. This means going through your social media and unfollowing any“hate follows” you happen to have. It’s okay to follow someone if their posts inspire you to try something new, or are just aesthetically pleasing. It’s another when a post from them sends you into a self-hate tailspin. (Guilty!)
This means celebrating their successes with them. That doesn’t mean messaging them with a thousand explanation points or throwing them a party.You can just murmur “That’s awesome!” and move on if that’s where you’re at right now. No judgment.
This means taking a break from forcing yourself into action when you see someone kicking ass and taking names with their life. You don’t have to immediately throw yourself at polishing your resume or looking for envy-worthy internships. Sure, these posts can serve as a reminder, and maybe an addition to your to-do list later, but maybe practice a little self-care to center yourself, to check in and see if you really want what they have or if you’re just envious of their success.
And finally, this means that you recognize that you don’t hate the player, you hate the game. Society has taught us from day one to go after other girls when we’re competing, instead of, say, the boys. We’ve been taught to go against each other instead of celebrating someone else’s successes like they could be ours. When it comes to female empowerment, it applies to all women you meet, not just the ones who don’t challenge your success. By turning rivalry into inspiration, you are finding empowerment through yourself and your would-be rivals. Build yourself up, but not at the expense of trying to tear someone down.
No matter what stage you are in life, you’ll encounter someone who is your definition of #goals. That’s just a fact. How you approach the situation makes all the difference in your life and path to success though.
Featured Image via @itsdemib