My earliest recollection of real jealousy happened around the age of 6. I’d just been sick into my maths text book in front of the entire class. As I slowly lifted my eyes, trying my best to avoid those of every other, my gaze fell upon Jessica*, with perfect shiny dark hair, never a strand out of place. Something like this would never happen to Jessica. Oh how I loathed her.
It’s not like she’d ever done anything to rile me. In fact it was quite the opposite, we’d been friends. But from that moment onwards, I made it my mission to silently seethe over every perfect thing she did. It was exhausting.
Isn’t it strange - the things we choose to be jealous of? And that’s the key word here - choose. At the time, I didn’t realise it was a choice. It was just something I immediately felt, for no real reason, besides the chunks of lunch floating in my red-lined margin.
We’ve all been guilty of it at sometime or another. Have a think back on your own experiences - times where you’ve given someone the side-eye for wearing something you wouldn’t dare to. Or maybe in a work meeting, where you’ve sat firmly silent, arms-crossed listening to a female colleague voice another good point, compared to your zero. Sometimes it just seems like the easiest option to become jealous, than accept they’re pretty cool in some way or another.
But this doesn’t have to be the way things are, because you have a choice. We all do. And besides looking like the ultimate sour grape, being jealous of other women just doesn’t feel good. Plus creating a new entry in your burn book really does take a lot of time and effort.
I know you’re probably all reading this like ‘tell me something I don’t know’ - and if you’re already one of the women summoning full marching bands for every female in your life, then I’m going to summon one right back at you because that’s amazing and you rock. But for a lot of us (even me, sometimes), it’s a skill that needs to be kept in practice, and the more you do it, the easier and more rewarding it gets.
So let’s go back to that quote way back at the start of this article - “The way to achieve your own success is to be willing to help somebody else get it first.” Gaining success for yourself, celebrating the achievement in others and feeling and giving empowerment through every little action is going to make you happier, others happier. Everyone is thus more likely to push a little bit harder, or have that little bit more confidence in themselves next time.
But we understand it's not always this easy. So, to help you on your way to loving every woman and supporting their successes, here are three things you can start putting into practice right now.
1. In the workplace
Globally, women only hold 4% of top leadership roles such as CEOs. That’s 1 female for every 24 males. We need to change this, and together we can.
When it comes to the working environment, the smallest of actions can make the biggest of differences. How many times have you come home angry, dwelling on your performance in a meeting, going over it again and again in your mind? What if you could be the one to take away this negativity even for just one female colleague?
If a co-worker gets cut off during a meeting and doesn’t have the confidence to speak up again, help her out by politely cutting back to say you’d like to hear the rest of her point. Encourage her if you see her confidence waning, and speak up when you agree with her points. Ask her how her work’s going in the lift, and listen carefully to what she has to say. Tell her when she’s done something noteworthy or impressive. That little well done could go miles. Such positivity will not only get you noticed by peers, but it’s also an important trait in management. People will remember and return that favour when you might least expect it.
If one more female in every workplace had the strength to put forward a new idea where they usually wouldn’t, or stand up to something they’d usually let lie, that’s already a step closer to bridging that 4% management gap.
2. In your friendship group
Friends, particularly those we’ve known for a long time, can be way too easy to neglect. If there’s one who you were always better than in school, it might be difficult to see her in a higher paid position than you now. It’d be easy to curse and then send her a sarcastic ‘good for you’ whatsapp message, or even worse, a single smile emoji.
Having and holding onto jealous feelings can lead to raised blood pressure, heart-rate and also anxiety. There’s literally nothing good about being jealous. So let go. And be happy. Put your friend on a pedestal when she does well, and lift her up as much as humanly possible because she’s your sister from another mister.
Being able to share your friends’ achievements also makes it a lot easier to be completely and truly honest with them. They’ll be able to hear things like ‘I’m going to cancel on us tonight because I just want a night in bed’, or ‘I don’t agree with your decision that Tom Hiddleston is more attractive than Ryan Gosling’. Friends value honesty extremely highly, and challenging their opinions in a constructive way can lead to trust and respect, which they’ll return to you also.
3. With people you don’t know
If you stumble across an opportunity to talk to someone new - take it. You never know how much your conversation may positively impact their day. 30 seconds of your time may leave someone who’s feeling shy, with a confidence boost that could lead to other positive decisions in their day.
If you see someone with a handbag you desperately want, smile, instead of scowling. Be mindful of those around you - run after someone if they drop something, or let someone who’s in a rush go ahead of you in a queue. Pay a completely random female a single compliment. If all of us completed one of these small actions per day, every female may just have enough extra empowerment and confidence to push a little further, take an extra leap or believe a little bit more in ourselves.
Plus, let’s not pretend to be entirely selfless here, because there’s something in it for us too. Doing something nice for someone else causes your brain to release serotonin, which makes you feel happier. And when you’re happier, you’re more likely to continue the generosity, and people are more likely to warm to you and be generous back.
Enjoy letting go ladies, and good luck on your own missions of empowerment. Take it from the sick girl who’s finally at peace with Jessica’s hair - it really can be life-changing.
I’ll leave you with the wise words of Taylor Swift.
“Other women who are killing it should motivate you, thrill you, challenge you and inspire you.”
*Names have been changed.