It was after lunch on a random Saturday afternoon, Doug and I were driving back from Trader Joe’s. When Doug said something like: “You know that chick (pardon my husband) who’s Instagram famous for doing nothing?” “Which one?” I answered rolling my eyes. “The annoying one who posts suggestive pictures of herself and works out all the time.” Again I rolled my eyes, “Which one?” “This one”, he showed me on his phone. She writes for an international magazine now.” I almost threw my phone at the windshield. “SHE WHAT?” “That’s such bullshit!” I screamed. “Apparently grande boobs and blond hair are all the qualifications one needs to be a recognizable writer these days.”
For the next thirty minutes, I went down a rabbit hole. Ranting to Doug about how unfair life is, and how this world rewards only the sexy, in shape people with blond hair. I talked about how sick it makes me when women exploit themselves on social media for likes, (some call this “thirst trapping”). I yelled about the lack of support for proper talent in the media. Hell, I think I even quoted someone on this. I worked myself up so bad I almost cried.
Then I stopped, as I felt the knot in my throat ready to explode, and I asked Doug, “I don’t understand why I hate her so much? The worst part is that I also hate all those other women who get everything they want.” I said almost in tears, I could feel the feminist in me dying…
Why do we hate the other woman?
As a woman, I grew up conditioned to believe that there’s only room for one. In the world of business, writing, even dating, there’s only room for one. One blond, one brunette, one tall, one short, one smart, one funny, one Hispanic, one black, one good and one bad. And that’s it. Sorry ladies, this magazine, blog, show, film, marketing department, the executive board already has one of you. Ask any woman who grew up during the Sex & The City era and she will vouch for me. We feel like we always have to stick out, be different somehow, better and more interesting to get the job, the guy, the girl, the house, the followers.
The feminist in me says I am wrong for hating the other woman. I named her that because she is the woman who makes me question who I am and what I stand for. She is the woman who makes me jealous, yeah I said it because she’s living the best version of my life! And I’m not talking about the superficial crap she posts on her profile. I hate her because she has turned my ideas into actions, she’s built the business I always wanted, taken the risks I’m too afraid to take, has written the story I spent months thinking about writing and had it published in the New York Times. She is my nemesis! I hate her because I feel incompetent when I see her, I feel robbed.
“I feel robbed???” WTF are you talking about crazy? She didn’t steal anything from you. No one can steal the invisible. No one can steal your stories, fabulous ideas or recipes if they’re still in your head! And furthermore, even if someone did steal your story, style, wear the same dress, wouldn’t that be a form of flattery? It’s true, you can’t always be glad when someone copies you, and I imagine it’s especially infuriating when someone copies you and then does it better, and gets the credit. But what can you say if you haven’t even started yet? How can you be angry because someone else had the courage to actually do what you have always MEANT to get to?
In truth, I realize now that it’s not the other woman I hate, it’s the envy in me that tricks me into thinking I dislike her and her accomplishments. The person I’m really annoyed with is myself. Wow, I don’t even know where that came from. It’s a little shameful to admit, I hate being complacent. For not following through on my ideas and for not knowing sometimes what to do about these ideas. I hate that I sometimes get paralyzed by fear of failure and that I still haven’t figured out how to squash that fear for good. It creeps up at the most inconvenient times! And I can’t seem to grow out of it. I think it’s even gotten worse with age. Now I’m not only scared of taking career-related risks, I’m scared of dying young, getting wrinkles, never accomplishing something “great”, having kids, not having kids, not saving enough money, paying for my non-existent children’s college, losing my hair, losing my husband, losing my mind, etc… Not necessarily in that order. And lately my new fear is this:
Can we really succeed without likes?
Sometimes seeing “the other woman” succeed because she has 100 thousand followers makes me want to stop trying and stop writing. Sometimes I think, what’s the point? With the short attention span people have, it’s almost impossible to expect anyone to read beyond the first paragraph anyway. This new age of insta-fame has made me wonder if hard work and perseverance truly matter anymore. Lately, it seems that a good booty shot will take you further than a great blog post. Though one could argue that looking super fine every day is also very hard work. How much time does it take to get the perfect cleavage/pout/nonchalant morning in the sunrise shot?
I’d say it doesn’t matter because I write for me, but that’s not entirely true. I write because I want people to learn from my experiences. I write to let others know that they are not alone in their challenges. I write because I know there are people who can relate to my stories or at least find them humorous at times. Mostly I write because I love telling stories. So yes, I too want an audience, but I don’t have the boobs or guts to get it the Instagram-famous way. So I’ll be over here in my not-so manicured life, doing it anyway, one inspiring and authentic step at a time.