I'm not a competitive athlete but I've been in competition all my life. I could say I've always been an intensely competitive human being working hard for external acknowledgement.
I remember a dull sensation in my solar plexus area even as a young child, whenever my mother mentioned another girl having won a price or scored in a competition, or being very pretty, or being good at art, math, knitting, .... (my goodness fill in anything you want here) whatever was said was proof that I wasn't good enough. It meant I had to work harder, and only if I would achieve something would I feel ok. Outwardly I'm sure I said something appropriately nice, internally though, I was hurting.
Never did it occur to me to even question any of these thoughts. My worthiness was completely tied to external acknowledgement. If my design submission didn't win, if someone else had longer legs, was prettier, was good at math, got a solo in the dance competition, it just meant that I was less worthy then the one 'at the top' which meant I had to work harder. I was in constant competition to prove myself.
Especially with other women and girls.
Of course it's human to seek acknowledgement externally. Our society is built on it. It starts when a young child asks for acknowledgement: "Mom, Dad, look at me, look, look, look what I can do!"
Schools are built on a grading system so we can gauge where on the worthiness scale. At work we have performance ratings.
Austin Channing Brown in "I'm still here" calls it the ladder.
I'm a white, educated, professional woman, which puts me pretty high on that ladder. I'm certain innate my position on that ladder prevented me from questioning my sense of worth and value much sooner. Society's agreements worked for me for almost a half century. I would never be as high on that ladder as, say, Claudia Schiffer or Angela Ahrendts (more beautiful and financially successful), but I was worthier than a stay-at-home-mom who was just relying on her husbands salary and not 'pulling her weight'.
Of course these beliefs stem from a family where a car purchase was carefully calibrated to what the boss drove, status, and general career and image aspirations. One of the most impactful lines I remember my father having ever said to my mom post divorce: 'You'll come crawling on your nipples to beg me for money'
That's why I always felt I had to prove my worth. I wasn't the most beautiful or successful, but I could still become really good at what I did. For the most part that served me professionally pretty well but it undermined my friendships and relationships.
When I got laid off in 2008 my ego was wounded, thankfully my daughter was one at that time which was a great excuse. Nine years later, Leona got sick with undiagnosed Celiac disease, then ailed by anxiety and panic attacks, I had to really face it. I was now a stay-at-home-mom, not really enjoying that in itself and of course financially completely dependent on my husband. The scaffolding of my identity and self worth had had come crashing down.
Over the last three years I had many major shifts in my belief system and understanding of the world though therapy, coaching, meditation and transformational programs. Menopause probably has also a role to play in that.
I know now that I am special and worthy simply by being here on this planet. And so is everybody else! I am still integrating the parts of me that got pushed aside growing up. I am no longer in competition with any woman, I see their greatness as much in the struggle than in the wins.
I cherish the company of powerful, magnificent women. I am finally able to champion and sponsor you, see your potential no matter where you believe you are on that darn ladder. This has freed me from the exhausting, constant hamster wheel of competition. I don't have to compete with you or myself either.
This my friends has become my Superpower.
Which I will use it for the rest of my life on this planet. Because I stand for the empowerment of women and girls on this planet. And I'm so excited to be able to use all my background, experience, gifts and skills to help and show how an industry that wreaks havoc on the people and planet can be a vehicle for good, to make highly conscious women who love fashion and style uncompromisingly feel, look and do good at the same time!
Who's with me?