I’ve seen posts, read memes, and watched lessons from women, to women, about not competing with other women. It resonated with me and I often felt like “I got it” – as in the message overall.
I got it, that is, until I felt like I was put in competition with another woman. Through choices not my own, and secrets I discovered unexpectedly, I was at odds with a woman I didn’t even know. At the moment I was most consumed, I wanted to be just like her. At the moment I was fighting the hardest, I wanted to be exactly the opposite of her. Regardless, I wanted the attention she was receiving, because to me it was supposed to be the attention I was receiving.
On top of my own over thinking mind to combat, I was also a little more than half way through my final pregnancy – just pregnant enough to not feel the glow, teetering on the point where I was starting to feel down on myself about the reflection in the mirror.
It’s hard to compete with someone you don’t even know. If you’re an over thinker like me, you might even make them someone they are not.
Through unconventional methods, I learned more about who she was, at least on some level. But the more I learned, the more I felt like she was someone I would call a friend. Imagine my shock the more I learned, the more I liked, the more I thought of her as someone I’d like to really know – without being hidden behind a weird veil.
I had to come clean, and I did. I expected the worse, and that’s not what I got. There is a level of weirdness that I cannot deny, but she accepted me even after I admitted being absolutely nuts. I was able to see that she wasn’t who I made her up in my mind to be.
And in a moment where I found myself lending a hand at her request, I really got it, for the first time. I’m competing with no one but myself. I want to be better than I was yesterday and yesteryear. But I’m not really trying to be better than her, or her, or her, or her. This newfound awareness of who I’m playing against has changed the narrative for me all week. I look at other women differently than I ever have before.
The comparisons I created are silenced quickly when I remind myself that I’m only trying to learn and do better today than I did yesterday. I have found a freedom to say hello, to be warm, to be welcoming. I have found freedom to offer myself honestly, to answer questions less guarded. I have found new freedom in my writing, my living, my parenting, my being.
Thank you for accepting me when it seemed least likely you would. Thank you for choosing kindness when another choice would have made sense. Thank you for showing me a better way. Thank you for the freedom you helped me to find.