Despite these similarities, and despite the fact that the goal of the group is to uplift and encourage one another, one of the members in particular insists on flaunting her lifestyle in a very poorly disguised effort to grandstand.
For example, one of us may not be able to make it to a meeting and we'll send a message to the group that reads simply, "Sorry, but I'm traveling that day. Enjoy, ladies! I'll catch up with you at the next meeting." This member, however, will opt out of a meeting by laying it on extra thick. "Unfortunately, I'll be in the French Riviera that week, and when I return my son will be heading back to Harvard. This means that I will have to miss the next two meetings. I may actually have to miss THREE meetings because my husband wants to spend at least one weekend in the Hamptons this summer. But, I can arrange to have my secretary pick up the materials, or perhaps she can arrange a conference call..."
Get the idea?
I'm intrigued by this, to say the least. It seems that whenever a group of women gathers together - whether rich or poor, young or old, successful or unemployed - there is always one or more who insists on making it a competition. You've seen it in your own circle of women. Turn on any episode of the "Real Housewives of [INSERT CITY]", and you'll see the same type of posturing.
Think about the last time you got together with your girls. And, be honest with yourself as you answer these questions. (No one can read your mind, so keep it real. :)
- Did you secretly enjoy the fact that one of your friends had put on a few extra pounds?
- Did you look each of them up and down to compare their outfits to yours?
- Were you envious that one of them was brave enough to try a new hairstyle or even a new lipstick?
- As one of them shared their problems, did you feel superior because you're not dealing with those issues?
- Or if you were the one with the problems, were you too ashamed to admit it?
The fact is, some of us gauge our growth by comparison to our peers - feeling guilty when a friend begins a weight loss program or an exercise regiment; comparing the strides they make in their careers with our own; giving ourselves catty reassurances to make ourselves feel better ("She may be a size four, but her feet are ugly as hell!" or "So what she drives a Benz! At least my car is a 2012 and hers is a 2003."). Some of us even use our kids as part of the contest, comparing our children's grades, looks, athletic prowess and even their love lives to the ones of our friends' kids! Don't even get me started about the way we compare the men in our lives - your man versus her man. It seems that many of us are constantly in a contest to have one up on our girls!
Maybe men do it, too. But, women are experts at it.
The next time you catch yourself engaging in this behavior, STOP! Remind yourself that there is no competition between you and your girlfriends. In fact, your only competitor is YOU. Each day, we should all make a commitment to outdo ourselves. If you worked out for ten minutes yesterday, go for fifteen minutes today. Don't worry about the fact that your sister is training for a marathon. If you're single and still looking for Mr. Right, don't worry that your neighbor has been married for twenty years. If you're making a five-figure salary today, strive for a six-figure salary in ten years. Don't worry that your girlfriend is a CEO. Your contest is between YOU and YOU.
I might have to print this post out and slip it into that girlfriend's purse at our next women's meeting. But, oh...I forgot...she'll have to miss the next meeting. Unfortunately, that's not all she's missing. She's missing the point of the women's empowerment group altogether. And that's the saddest part!