Do a quick search on Pinterest and you’ll find a never ending stream of quotes about women supporting women.
From the looks of it, it seems we’ve got it all figured out but I’m not so sure we do. Ever since we’re little girls, we feel the need to bully or be bullied. I’m by no means saying that everyone is like this and to be a girl is to be cursed to life of constant cat fights. But think about it, there has always been “that girl.” The one who reigns and is in constant fear of someone taking that power away from her. Or maybe I’m confusing real life with Gossip Girl or Mean Girls.
We’ve been taught this from a young age thanks to stereotypes, movies, TV shows and the corporate world. We have to fight and tear each other down because only one or a small few of us are able to have success. F that.
Where’d that come from? Why, in this day and age, do we feel the need to be the sole female who succeeds? Shouldn’t we be proud of each other, support each other, lift each other up? Or, damn, at the least just sincerely say “good job ” and move on when a female has some success. But honestly, I think most of us feel a tinge of jealousy first and then support second. Why the hell is that?
This is not the unanimous case though. There are so many wonderful, supportive women in my life and I’m truly thankful for each of them. Just look at all these amazing women who have helped turned A Way Abroad into what it is today! I hope everyone has a girl gang that supports each other continuously, no matter what. This week is International Women’s Day.
Take some time to cheer on your friends and even strangers. Let them know how awesome they are. Ignore the jealousy and give them a hug...and mean it.
I saw a quote the other day (and no I didn’t save it, and no I can’t find it again) but it’s something along the lines of, “One woman’s success does not take away from your own.” And that’s so beautiful and so true. How can something so simple and seemingly obvious be so powerful?
So here we are. Thanks for sticking with me in my long, passionate introduction. Let’s get to the root of this and figure out how we, as a community, can make some changes and be the badass women I know we all really are.
1. We see each other as direct competition
Anytime you meet a new woman you internally size her up. Physically, mentally and socially. That probably won’t stop.
You’ll think things like, “How is her hair so shiny?” “How is she so successful at such a young age?” “How has she travelled so much?” “Why is she so funny?” Go ahead and think those things, that's ok. You shouldn't be searching for signs a woman hates you or immediately assume that's the base of it all.
It’s the connotation in which you think that’s the problem, not the thoughts themselves.
Like her hair? Ask her what products she uses. Want a job like hers? Ask her for tips. Curious about her travels? Get her to share how she’s afforded it or where she would recommend that you go. Think she’s funny? Befriend her. Everyone needs a friend that can make them laugh.
These positive qualities shouldn’t turn to negative ones in your head. They should make you like her, not compete with her.
2. We are envious of what others have
Why is it when you see someone so young and beautiful doing something exotic and luxurious you immediately think she doesn’t deserve it?
Ok, sometimes people have wealthy parents and have trust funds. Well damn, that does look like a cool private helicopter tour they did over the Maldives but ok, ok, I’m trying to be happy for them here. Just because they fly first class and have never slept on the floor in a hostel, doesn’t mean they’re “the worst.” Let it motivate you to do a similar trip in the future or better yet:
Realize they have absolutely nothing to do with you.
You’ve probably never met this person and probably never will. And if you do, try and weasel your way on the next trip if you want. Regardless, there isn’t room for just one female in the entire world to do this.
Stop wasting your energy on negative thoughts and gossip. It’s not helping. Put that energy instead into realizing why you’re jealous and what small steps you can take to achieving a similar goal.
Think a fitness model has a hot body? Realize she’s genetically gifted but start exercising and eat food that fuels you to grow your own confidence. Want to quit your job and move somewhere exotic? Check out this mega list of jobs you could land around the world. Want to wake up tomorrow and be a millionaire? Go back to sleep and think of an attainable goal, like starting your own business instead, because that one is just going to piss you off in the morning.
3. We don’t make ourselves approachable to other females
I’ve talked a lot about the girl at the bar who is silently (or verbally) judging the new girl. Or the one on social media looking at the hot, popular girl. I want to take a minute and look at it from the other side. If you’re a girl that constantly feels like she’s being judged by others or has worked their ass off to become successful in one way or another:
Make yourself approachable to other females.
Don’t carry yourself like you’re too good for someone else. Don’t talk down to people or act like you’re better than them. Don’t ignore people because they haven’t “figured it out” yet. Don't sulk thinking why does she hate me for no reason. Be there for them. Answer their questions, be kind and helpful. You probably have a lot more in common than it seems to you on first appearances.
And guess what, it works both way. You will probably learn something from them too, whether you realize it in the beginning or not.
All of us know it can be really hard to meet new female friends when you move to a new city or scary to reach out to someone you admire. Don’t make it more difficult. Be a friendly face. Listen to their thoughts, ideas and stories and don’t call bullshit on a total stranger.
4. We’re all self conscious
Everyone on earth is self-conscious about something. No matter who you are or what you look like. It’s way easier to pick out someone else’s faults than focus on your own. It’s way easier to diminish others in order to feel better about yourself. Just stop. You’re seriously not helping anything. This doesn’t help you and it certainly doesn’t help the person your judging. Her long legs don’t make yours shorter, her flat stomach doesn’t make yours rounder, her wanting to sleep around doesn’t mean she wants to sleep with your boyfriend.
Know your self worth.
Learn to love looking at yourself in the mirror, naked.
Find things about your body and personality you love. Everyone is unique and if we weren’t, the world would be so unbearably boring. Find what makes you special and celebrate it, instead of comparing it to others. And hey, if making changes to your body will make you truly, genuinely confident, that’s ok too. You do you.
If you're really struggling with your self confidence, an amazing way to grow your confidence and really learn to know and love yourself is through solo traveling. I've learned more about myself on those adventures than I ever thought possible. Read up on what another girl from our community says are the top 10 things she learned while traveling solo and why you should do it too!
5. We want to be the “cool girl”
I’ve been a “tom boy” for most of my life. I’ve chosen to play soccer instead of being a cheerleader. I just started wearing make-up more often than not when I go out this past year and I don’t really know what I’m doing with it. I’ve had so many conversations throughout the years with guys that go something like this:
“Why are girls so bitchy with each other?”
“I don’t know, girls are mean. I’d way rather hang out with guys than girls.”
“Yeah, you’re one of the cool girls.”
And then I secretly beam inside (if I beam outwardly that’d probably take away my “coolness” so I was pretty careful about this).
I thought of girls as weak. Weak little girls that can’t play backyard football or can’t do anything independently. That’s just not true and I’m sorry it took me so long to realize it.
Women are strong and capable. Fine, be friends with girls who play sports and like to get dirty if you do and that’s ok. You don’t have to be friends with everyone but you can stop being mean to women you don’t understand. Drop the girl hater act, it's not helping anyone.
Stop thinking that being “girly” is synonymous with being “weak,” “catty” and “uncool.” Beautiful girls can be smart, smart girls aren’t always socially awkward and being tough doesn't make you less feminine.
Drop the stereotypes, watch makeover movies because they’re silly, not realistic and stop putting people into boxes. I hate being in a box. I like sports, romantic comedies, camping and week long treks, lipstick, drinking beer, reading books and taking care of my plants. I like hostels and partying all night in new cities and spa weekends in lux hotels. I pride myself on my intelligence but also care about my looks. I don’t feel like I fit into one mold and I bet you don’t either.
6. Social media can be a nightmare
Social media is a powerful tool, rather it be negative or positive. It’s not just about beautifully curated travel pictures, gorgeous models with the best makeup or fitness gurus that look like a 10 in a bikini. It’s also educational, entertaining and a way to connect with people you probably never would have otherwise.
For anyone that has tried to have an online presence you’ve probably been made to feel like shit by trolls. Or you’ve been flowered with compliments and offered experiences that actually don’t exist.
Trolls are real and terrible. They can diminish you with a few types on a keyboard and that’s just bullshit. Don’t be a troll and don’t let trolls dominate you.
You’re better than that, don’t forget it. It’s scary to post something on your social media and wait to see how friends and TOTAL strangers judge you. Damn. How did this happen and how did we all buy into it? Personally, I really do enjoy Insta but I put in an effort to follow supportive pages and be a part of groups that build myself and others up, not tear us down.
Social media is supposed to be just that, social. It’s about making connections around the world. Whether you use it as a business or not, don’t use it strictly for self serving purposes.
Find groups that will empower you to travel, explore and just be YOU. Don’t follow someone and try to be their little clone. Find yourself and use the others as inspiration and motivation. Keep in mind though that social media is not a direct representation of reality and people can post pick and chose what to say and what to share. The Insta vs. Reality phenomenon is a real one.
Check out Chessie King's page. She’s a great role model for body confidence. And her posts reading things trolls say about her are the perfect reaction to them and make you laugh and realize how absurd they are.
Lucy Mountain is another great example. She's blunt and her in words, “passive aggressively calling out fitness bs.” She brings a lot of reality to the fitness and diet culture and is relatable and hilarious.
If you're a traveler, or are hoping to travel more in the future, get inspired by our Instagram account that features female travelers from around the world. Read their stories but also don't be shy to give us a tag and share your own!
7. We’re taught there isn’t room for all of us at the top
In big corps you hear about this all the time. That women aren’t given as many opportunities as men to rise to “powerful position” so they see each other as direct threats. I see this in the travel world too. Who has traveled to more countries? Who has seen more, experienced more, has the wildest stories to tell?
As Ilyssa from illymation put it, “There are 7.5 billion people on the earth, we are bound to have the same experiences.”
While some can find this threatening, it really shouldn’t be. If someone is trying to do the same thing as you, give them advice and support. Don’t let them rob your ideas blind, of course, but realize you’re not the only person who has hitchhiked on boats in the Amazon.
For any us of who have traveled solo as a female, we know it isn’t always as easy or comfortable for us as it can be for men. Wouldn’t it be better if there were more of us out there? If we weren’t seen as rare or in some cases an “easy target?”
Let’s motivate each other, share things we’ve learned and let others learn from our mistakes. Be proud to help grow this community and see other strong, capable women accomplish their goals.
Just look at Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. They decided they could both be funny. It didn’t just have to be one of them. They became the ultimate BFFs and continue to support each other through roles and opportunities. They don’t try and outdo one another, they build off each other instead to create something completely hilarious. Be like them.
I’ve been lucky enough to have always had supportive women in my life. I’m so thankful to them. I’ve met so many wonderful, inspiring women that keep pushing me to do my very best and I can only hope they feel the same way about me.
All of these thoughts were ones that helped me to shape the idea of A Way Abroad. I hope to inspire women to share their successes with others but in ways that show a fellow female how they can follow in their same steps.
Gone are the days of the “secrets” to success. No. No more secrets. Let’s be open, upfront and supportive. Let’s see just how true that popular quote is and prove, “When women support women, incredible things can happen.”
March 8 is International Women’s Day. Do something kind for another female and continue with that every day after. If you have a job or expat guide to share, we’d love to hear it!