Having become so comfortable standing alone and generally being alone, I learnt a bit late that being a woman isn't something I can do on my own.
Every part of my journey included one group of women or another, and sometimes I was lucky enough to experience more than one part of my journey with the same group of women. Even when I look through this blog, I see traces of the women in my life - from the pictures and videos they took of me to the meals they treated me to, and shared with me. 😊 My mind is filled with the lessons I have learnt through my friendships and relationships with these women.
Honestly speaking, now that I've realized this, I don't know how any woman can survive without having other women - be it mothers, aunties, sisters, cousins or girlfriends - in her life!
"I'm so glad that I'm friends with women of substance."
I mentioned in the first post of the 'Woman' series that I don't like it when we as women compare ourselves to each other; and that is partly because it prevents us from building the kind of friendships and relationships I'm talking about. But it was only the other day that I realized where this dislike of comparisons stems from...
When I was thinking of what I was going to write in this week's post, I knew that comparison between women is what I wanted to focus on, but I didn't know exactly what I wanted to say. It was then that I started the journey down memory lane, in search of where this comparison was first introduced to me - and suddenly it all came back to me...
It was during my childhood, when I was the one being compared to my older sister.
My sister is two years older than me. Of all my siblings, she's the closest to me in age. She's a beautiful woman of many talents. She's one of those all-rounded people who seem to be able to do anything they put their minds to - be it sports, modelling or anything to do with fashion. I, on the other hand, have always been more in tune with books than I have ever been with any sport, and didn't care much for anything else apart from reading and writing.
I don't quite remember when the comparison started. But once they did, they never seemed to stop - whether they were coming from an outer source or from within. I have never really wanted to be like my sister, and I don't think that she has ever had any desire to be like me either, but what we kept hearing from other people had a huge influence on the way we related to each other.
The comparisons to other girls continued when I went to school, and this time they were in my favour. My love for reading was paying off, and I finally felt like there was something which I was better at than other people were. My favourite subjects were Maths, English & Religious Education, and in many instances I was asked by my teachers to help other students with their reading and calculations - something that really boosted my self-confidence.
Comparisons slowly became a normal part of life for me, but it wasn't until later that I realized the impact they were having on how I saw myself. On the one hand, I felt insecure because I knew that I could never be as good as my sister in everything; but on the other hand, I became conceited, and would sometimes refuse to help other students in class simply because I didn't feel like it.
"Girls compete with each other, women empower one another."
Eventually, other students stopped asking for my help.
I remember clearly one instance in particular when a student who usually came to me for help in Maths walked right past my desk and went to another girl for help instead. There was no mistaking how happy the other girl was that someone considered her to be so good in Maths that she was asking her for help. She happily showed the girl how to do whatever it was that she was having trouble doing, and took her time to explain every step of the calculation.
I didn't acknowledge it then, but the whole experience really challenged me. I hadn't realized how proud I'd become of my own skills! Somewhere in between, I had started seeing my ability to help others as a privilege rather than an act of service.
It was only later on, when my sister and I started becoming friends that my thinking started to change. All the things that my sister is good at - and that I'm not so good at - started to work in my favour when she started using her knowledge to help me.
In the process we became the best of friends, and I started seeing how we could use our differences to empower each other rather than to bring each other down - as we sometimes used to do.
This was exactly what I was doing in class - helping people - before I became so full of myself; and after seeing the error in my ways, I went back to doing just that, and even asked for help in the subjects I wasn't so good at. My relationship with women completely changed from then onwards!
"When women support each other, incredible things happen."
As the women around me continued to empower me through advice, encouragement or simply through their own examples, I started to realize how comparisons can work to our advantage if we just turn them around. The best way for us to do this is to start looking at each other differently; instead of seeing another woman as competition or as your source of insecurity, start seeing her as your source of inspiration; see her as someone who can help you get to where you want to be through her own example of striving and accomplishing her goals.
Nobody understands women like women; we are, therefore, in the best position to help each other. We can learn so much from each other if we decide to.
So how about we put the comparison aside, and work together instead? 😉
We are all capable of achieving our goals, but we'll only do so if we are willing to do it together.
"You can always tell who the strong women are. They are the ones you see building one another up, instead of tearing each other down."
Photography📷: Sophie Arp.😘
I really love this post. I haven't followed from the beginning of the 'Woman' series... for part obvious reasons of being a guy and not a woman lol...
I agree with you Ibukun, the lessons in this post can be applied by all. Nice piece Debra!
I'm right there with you guys!
Lol. I feel you Ibukun. 😄 I wanted to focus on women this month, but if asked I would also give the same advice to men.
I remember my parents comparing me to my big sister growing up. I think they didn't know better.
I'm right there with you, Miss Tumwet.
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