Stronger Together

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Earlier this month, I was invited to “like” a blogging page on Facebook from a former roommate and two of her friends.  I had been close with this girl for a bit early on in college, but we both drifted away and haven’t had any contact since (no animosity, just life).

When I glanced through the blog prior to hitting the thumbs up (my likes are precious, can’t just give them out like candy), I was surprised by how awesome it was.  The title of the blog is ’30 Day Gals’, and the premise is in their tagline: Inspiring Growth Through 30 Day Challenges.  Their blog has been live since November, and their January challenge is to face their fears; their posts this month have been both entertaining and inspiring.

I am ashamed to admit, however, that I felt a pang of jealousy when I was browsing.  Their blog is so much cooler than mine.  Wow, that’s such an awesome concept-why didn’t I think of that?  They have more followers than me.  This is really good…dammit.  Instead of being excited for them and happy that fellow female bloggers in roughly the same genre of blogging were doing well, I was twinging on the inside with envy.

Obviously, that isn’t cool.  There is more than enough room for more than one person to be successful, and the more people who are putting out positive vibes and demonstrating a growth mindset, the better!

And so, rather than sit here and wallow in those stupid feelings, I figured I’d link all of my readers to them so that they can check it out for themselves–it IS pretty cool, otherwise my initial reaction would have been more smug.

Taking a step back from my pettiness, I wonder what would happen if more people helped elevate their “competition” rather than try to force them down?  Obviously, if this were a business setting, I wouldn’t be telling my customers to go to ‘the other guy’ down the street because he’s so awesome, but when it’s just people sharing their passions, why is it so hard to lend our weight behind someone else who is also doing wonderful things?

As I’ve mentioned before in my blog, I like to listen to Andy Frisella’s podcast off and on.  One thing that he consistently mentions is how truly successful people like to see other people succeed as well.  It’s not about just ONE person winning, it’s about EVERYONE winning.

For some reason, whether it be hidden personal insecurities or jealousy or a lack of confidence in my own abilities, I have always struggled with being happy with other people’s success.  This is not something that I am proud of in the least-I want to be one of those people who cheers the loudest when someone else wins.  I want to be the person who is the first to say a sincere congratulations.  I want to be the person who gets excited by other people’s success because it means that I can be successful, too.

There is absolutely nothing to gain by putting yourself into a box and not allowing anyone else into your space.  All you are accomplishing is blocking your own view into what could be the catalyst for your own success.  If there is anything that my 28 years have taught me, it is that there is nothing that can be achieved 100% on your own.  Even if you are the only one doing the work, there are people there to be your sounding board, or to help you relax when you need to, or to simply provide inspiration for the final push.

So many times we let pride get in the way of our progress.  I remember during my childhood and high school years, I would not like my siblings see one ounce of vulnerability; I was the eldest child and therefore the example, unbreakable, constantly strong, and never needing any sort of emotional support.  While I thought that I was doing them a favor at the time, I was actually doing us both a disservice; it is only when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable that our relationships with one another can blossom into something fruitful.

Since I have made the (slow, still on-going) switch to letting my siblings see my inner weaknesses, mistakes, and honest feelings, I feel much closer to each of them.  There is something so freeing about finally letting people see the real you, no matter what their reaction may be.  Even if they reject you, it is at least a decision made from a place of authenticity.

As John Donne famously said, “No man is an island.”  An island looks pretty and enviable from the outside, but when you get closer you can see the blowing sand and lonely palm tree struggling to cling to the semblance of being picture perfect.  Yet when that one tree finally gives way, there is no other to take its place.

If you have a network, however, you have infinite resources from which to draw when your own reserves are low.  I feel that sometimes, we don’t utilize these resources enough.  Allow yourself the luxury of crying into someone’s shoulder.  Permit yourself to ask those experiencing success for advice and help.  Grant yourself permission to share what you’re really feeling.

All in all, we are stronger when we’re pulling in the same direction; if you try to pull against someone else, you’re really just holding yourself back.  As Jack Johnson so eloquently puts it, “yeah, it’s always better when we’re together.”  There is no glory in being the person who stepped on the most bodies on their way to the top.

Celebrate everyone’s wins.  Share others’ success.  Lend a helping hand even when unasked.  To leave you with one more quote from the beloved classic High School Musical, “we’re all in this together/and it shows/when we stand/hand in hand/make our dreams come true.”

Let’s roll, Wildcats; together!

 

#Timesup: A Challenge

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“I have to ask, is your ass real?”  “Send me a pic of the magical booty” “I just really want your body” “I just want to see it”.
The above quotes are actual text messages sent to me from men either right out of the gate or after one or two dates.  It’s so common that it didn’t even occur to me to get mad about it until I told one of my friends about the latest guy, and how he wanted to “enjoy each other once or twice and then go our separate ways” after I told him that I didn’t really want to continue seeing him.  I rolled my eyes at the message and shared it for a laugh, but she got pissed.
“What the fuck!  What is wrong with men these days?  Whatever happened to a gentleman??” she fumed.  And her anger slapped me into reality.  These men could care less about me, who I am, or what I’m about.  All they see is I have a pretty face and a Kim Kardashian ass which is all they need to know to kick-start their lust and their bold messages.
The amount of talk surrounding the #metoo movement and Oprah Winfrey’s speech is sorely needed and long overdue.  To be fair, I don’t know of a woman who doesn’t appreciate a good compliment, but the amount of focus on our physical looks is complete bullshit.
I looked up a relevant definition: ob·jec·ti·fi·ca·tionnoun; the action of degrading someone to the status of a mere object.
“A mere Object”.  An OBJECT.  Non-human.  Non-living.  Non-worthy.  Most of all, replaceable.

We women have talked about stuff like this in the comfort of our small, intimate circles for forever.  “Oh my god, I got whistled at again when I walked by the gas station.”  “He totally grabbed my ass when we hugged” “I don’t really feel comfortable, but it’s my job so I can’t really say anything.”   It’s become a rite of passage; when did you first feel like the subject of a man’s desire?

And as much as it pains me to admit it, woman exacerbate the problem.  I can’t even count the amount of times I scroll through Instagram and see booty pics, cleavage shots, and suggestive eye winks staring me in the face.  I myself been guilty of choosing pictures to post solely based on the fact that I know my body looks good.

I don’t think that woman should have to hide their bodies, not by a long shot.  But there is a difference between classily showcasing your hard work and raunchily baring juuuuust enough where men feel confident sliding into your DM’s, knowing that they won’t be rebuffed.

Where has respect for ourselves gone?  I know without a doubt that the reason that so many men take the objectification route is because a lot of the time, it works.  I used to be the girl that thought she had to comply with whatever a man said just so that they would like me.  I found out the hard way, though, that once you give in, they simply move on.

Girls who give in have, sadly, become a dime a dozen.  And it’s not just because the amount of ‘easy’ woman have risen; how can we expect a girl to grow up knowing her worth when the only examples of men she has around her are the root cause of the problem?  When her dad is physically or mentally absent?  When she has 5 other half-siblings from 3 different women? When every other woman around her sees the objectification as status quo or worse, as a badge of honor??

As a gender, we need to give each other the strength to take a stand and demand the respect that any human deserves.  We need to applaud woman who have the courage to post makeup free and truly candid shots where their thighs might be squished or their face might be on their ‘bad side’.  We need to focus our comments more on how amazing their personality is or how awesome it is that they are helping out at home while their mom is recovering or how cool it is that they choose not to drink because it’s healthy.

Even typing out the above paragraph felt cheesy.  “Hurdy hur, I’m telling people to focus on inner beauty, I’m a nerd”.  THAT is how much sexualization has penetrated our inner selves–I can’t even urge my readers to focus on better things without feeling weird about it.  And that is exactly why all of this bullshit HAS to change.

And so, I have a challenge for myself, and a challenge for you:

Stop focusing so much on your body.  I know that you do.  There has not been one day that has gone by in the last 15 years where I have not had a negative thought about my body as a whole or in part.  Not ONE.  Where on earth has this thought pattern gotten me?  A rollercoaster of weight loss and weight gain, and even at my skinniest I never once was satisfied.  Focusing on your health and wellness and FEELING AMAZING should be where your focus is laser-pointed; the physical part will simply naturally follow.

Stop complimenting only the physical.  It’s so easy to do: “Nice boots!” “Omg I LOVE your haircut!” “You look so cute today!”.  These comments never fail to give a little ego boost, to be sure.  Yet how awesome is it if you hear something like “Wow, you are a really awesome mother.” “I really appreciated your help today, you made my morning so much less stressful.”  “I love how patient you are-you inspire me!”.

Stop comparing your body with others’.  This has become widespread with the rise of social media.  This girl’s bum is wayyyy more toned.  This girl’s hair is SO BOUNCY.  This girl’s stomach is so freakin’ flat.  But fast forward 50 years, and we are all going to be in the same state: wrinkled, grey, and playing Parcheesi with our fellow retired neighbors in our Florida condo.  Let’s seriously…SERIOUSLY…stop this bullshit.  It serves zero purpose.

Our bodies and our minds should both be at their healthiest state the majority of the time.  And when our inner self is full of positivity, the negativity from the world seems to have less of a hold on us.  The final step is to share that positivity with others, regardless of what might be thrown our way.  If WE start spreading how awesome we are rather than how sexy we are, the world will take notice.

Be positive.  Be helpful.  Be healthy.  Be YOU.  Inspire others to be the same.  And most of all, know that #timesup will continue to manifest into reality only if we relentlessly show that it is a valid movement.

Let’s do this!