A bittersweet day: The last day of school. Happy. Sad. Nostalgic. Exciting.
And yet, summer school is just around the bend… The road keeps going.
Truth be told, I don’t need a What If for this one. I know it’s okay because we all need to unplug sometimes. We all need to let go of our expectations and “shoulds.”
These past two weeks have been pretty big for me. A difficult situation at work, but also some good stuff: My second and third jobs came to an end and I’m down to just one blissful job (and a neglected business). I thought I would spend this holiday weekend powering through all the business tasks that so desperately need to be completed. And instead, I’ve done little else but housework, knitting and lying in bed listening to the rain.
For the first time since January, I did not post on Friday or Monday. I just let it go. And I’m good with that.
Last week was tough for me. Working with kids can be very hard, and not just for the obvious reasons. Sometimes, you have to witness a child’s pain and know that you cannot do anything to stop it. Sometimes, the ones you’ve worked so hard to protect and guide and love are the ones who leave your sphere of influence. Sometimes, you can only just hope and pray that God will protect those little dears when you, yourself, cannot.
This one is dedicated, with love, to my $900 paycheck!
I recently read this amazing blog post: 9 Traits of Underearners. I recognized myself in all but one of the characteristics. Yikes. But not a surprise.
I’ve always considered myself an underachiever. And yet, if you ask people I work with, they would describe me as an overachiever. In fact, I was regularly called Overachiever in grad school – and not always in a nice way.
But here’s what my former grad school classmates didn’t know about me: I overachieve in areas where I know I can do well in order to compensate for my underachieving in just about every other area of life. Hey, look how smart and organized and poised I am over here in this one little corner and hopefully you’ll be so wowed, you won’t notice that I don’t try very hard in any other area!
I think underachievers (a category into which underearners fall) are living with a secret shame. We’re terrified of letting anyone else see how incompetent we are. And we assume that it’s incompetence that’s at the root of the problem. Most of us don’t even realize that there’s no incompetence there, at all! It’s just fear. The fear is so big that we can’t bring ourselves to try. And god knows, we don’t believe in ourselves enough to face those fears – or even to acknowledge them. Because if we did acknowledge the fear, we’d have to do something about it.
We cannot tackle this issue by trying harder, negotiating more, looking for better jobs, dating more, etc. There is no “doing” that will heal this. There is only being and believing in our worth.
As Iyanla Vanzant says (and this will give you chills):
Everything that happens to you is a reflection of what you believe about yourself. We cannot outperform our level of self-esteem. We cannot draw to ourselves more than we think we are worth.
Seriously. I’m going to put that on a pillow. And a poster. And tattoo it on my arm so I can look at it every single day.
So, dear fellow Underachievers: Let’s make a pact right now. No more overachieving to cover up our underachieving. And no more underachieving. Period. Let’s look at ourselves as our own mother, in every situation. Would we want our daughter to be with a man who doesn’t respect her? Would we want our daughter to take a job in which she is not properly compensated? Would we want our daughter to accept something that is less than she deserves just because it’s available?
Where are you currently underachieving and what step will you take this week to recognize your worth?
Last week, I wrote about social media and how we often let it undermine our confidence and joy. I decided to attach it to feminism because we women are the ones who primarily use social networking, and we are also the ones most prone to comparing ourselves and coming up short. So if we consider ourselves feminists…what can we do to remedy this situation?
My own thoughts about it run the gamut. The best place to start is, no doubt, rooting through the nonsense and getting to the heart of what is going on – our own sense of insecurity, our own fears, our own lack of self-worth. That is something probably all of us could and should work on every day.
Beyond that, I think we need to ask ourselves some serious questions:
1. Is it empowering to women for me to feel like less of a success because of pictures or posts I see on social media sites?
2. Is it empowering to women for me to resent my sisters for all the perfection that they *appear* to have (based on pictures and posts on social media sites)?
3. Is it empowering to women for me to silently (or not) shame, dislike, disregard or tear down my social media sisters?
4. Is it empowering to women (including myself) to post this update/photo/whatever? Am I doing it to share with others or am I looking for approval/likes/retweets/comments?
Here are some interesting comments from you readers:
EcoGrrl says: I think it’s not only about strengthening the sisterhood, but strengthening our brothers as well, the real men. They need to be speaking up to their fellow male friends, coworkers, family members, etc. I posted a TGP column a few weeks back in response to the amazing “Where are Men’s Roar?” TEDtalk that is a beautiful example of a man being, well, a real man.
Maurie commented: I think that if these are the reactions we have as we see the happy stories of others then we need to go inside and work on our own sense of self-worth, self-acceptance and self-love… I for one want to share the things that are beautiful and inspiring in my life or the things I am passionate about. There is so much pain and suffering, complaining and whining and just plain nasty self and other talk out there. I don’t want to add to that. Sure, I’ll share a struggle from time to time, but for me personally, I just want to share the beauty more. That’s what I want to focus on.
Thank you, ladies! Anyone else have some thoughts?
First of all, I want to thank ALL of you who entered a submission. It takes some time to come up with a good What If and then make it beautiful by making a photo out of it! So thank you so very much!
And the winner, with 41% of the vote is…
Recognizing our worthiness is, I believe, an endless process. This challenge comes up in every area of our lives. As I’ve been struggling to step up and believe in myself and my business, I’ve noticed some interesting correlations between business and boyfriends (or husbands, significant others, partners, or whatever other incarnation of the romantic relationship you have). Take a look:
If you stick with your handsome, commitment-phobic boyfriend when you know you want to get married…
…then you probably have trouble emotionally investing in your business, setting long-term goals, making future plans or envisioning genuine success.
If you have a boyfriend who interrupts you a lot and disregards your ideas…
…then you probably don’t believe in your own ideas, either, and do not allow them to mature and come to fruition. Perhaps you don’t bring them into manifestation, at all.
If you have a hard time expressing and upholding your boundaries with your boyfriend…
…then you might be struggling with upholding your business policies and/or saying no to commitments or clients that aren’t a good match for you. If you have employees, this might extend even further in the form of allowing behavior that is not in line with your expectations and needs.
If you feel like you have to do endless favors for your boyfriend in order to hold his interest…
…then you might be overly accommodating with customers. Are you giving excessive free gifts or services? Are you offering exchanges or refunds without asking for the return of the product in question? Are you offering free shipping that destroys your profit margin?
If you are always looking for the latest look to stoke your boyfriend’s fire and distinguish yourself from all the other hot young ladies…
…then you probably waste way too much time trying to craft your image instead of just being the best you and the best business you can be.
If you need your boyfriend’s approval in order to feel good about yourself…
…then you probably place far too much value on what others think of you – how many likes, hits, retweets and orders you get – rather than being secure in the recognition of your worthiness.
If you feel that you have to have a relationship – or a relationship that “looks” a certain way – in order to be considered successful…
…then you probably have a very limited definition of what success looks like for an entrepreneur, and a limited ability to think outside the box.
If you don’t feel good enough to be in a relationship…
…then you likely under-price your products and services, and are filled with doubt about their value.
If you don’t value yourself, commit to your own success and love yourself unconditionally, you’re likely to falter both in love and in business.
Have you ever experienced any of these situations?
Have you noticed how social media has made us more obsessive and insecure than ever? We already have the temptation to think the worst about ourselves and compare ourselves to others…and thanks to Instagram and Twitter and Facebook, we can now follow the scene-by-scene perfection of the lives of our friends and family.
Are you single? How often do the pictures of your friends with their husbands make you feel bad about yourself? There they are on the beach. There they are having breakfast with their newborn at the trendy café a few blocks from their house. There they are taking a walk at sunset. And there’s a picture of their wedding, to celebrate their 10th anniversary.
Want kids but don’t have any (for any number of reasons including infertility or…)? How often do you feel sad or envious when you see the dozens and dozens of pictures your friends post on Facebook of their kids covered in chocolate or taking a bath or the videos of them laughing or singing?
Are you desperate for a better-paying, more satisfying job and just cringe when your friends post about their recent raise or their new company car? Or do you just want to quit, altogether so you can stay home with your kids, and feel a stab of pain whenever your SAHM friends post midday pictures of themselves sitting in the backyard with their kids?
It’s so easy to forget that social media brings out both our inner perfectionists and our inner sycophants. We want to look so happy and pretty and successful. We want people to respond favorably to our posts. We want to show them that we’re so successful and so beautiful that we have a wealth of compliments to shower on our friends in the form of “likes” and comments.
Would you post about the fight you just had with your boyfriend? That you’re scared your relationship might not survive such an argument? Would you post your child’s latest breakdown? Would you post a picture of yourself on the couch, surrounded by clean, but unfolded laundry? Would you post about your financial troubles?
Once in a while, sure, we open up and speak freely about our uncertainties, our fears, our struggles. But mostly, we want to share the best parts of ourselves on social media. So we do. And we forget that others do the same. We perceive other people to be happier than we are, and internalize that as failure.
I often wonder what this means to us, as women. If we identify with the principles of feminism, how do we apply that to social media? How do we support ourselves, as women, in the best way possible, while also supporting and honoring our sisters?
I have some ideas of my own, but this is such a HUGE, expansive topic that I thought I would ask you for your ideas and post them next Friday. Please leave a comment with your thoughts!