On Sunday my Facebook feed was wonderfully full of friends and media celebrating inspirational women. The 8th March has been International Women's Day since 1913 and is a day which is set aside to celebrate women's achievements and to promote gender equality. This year more ever it seemed that the general public, the media, and campaigns such as He For She were all focused on celebrating women and proclaiming the need for closing the gender gap. Now although I believe in equal rights for all, I'm not about to write a post on gender equality as there are many others who know much more about the subject and who can do a much better job of laying down the facts, but what I do want to do is encourage you to be confident as a woman and to let you know that you're perfect as you are, as well as to encourage women worldwide to support one another and to build one another up.
Image source: Pinterest
I am a big believer in focusing on people's good points, and often find myself thinking thoughts such as "she's so pretty", "I love her coat", "that's a great thing you're doing" etc., and I always used to internalise these thoughts, being almost embarrassed to complement my fellow females. Instead I'd often turn these thoughts into a negative, comparing myself thinking things such as "she's so pretty, why am I not as pretty?", "I love her coat, why are my clothes no good?" and "that's a great thing you're doing, why can't I do something like that?".
It was my own silly fault that I had these negative thoughts, and they only served to deepen my insecurities. Going to an all-girls school from the age of 8-18 also didn't help much. On the whole I had some really lovely friends there, but during the awkward young teenage years I was bullied by a few of my peers, and some of their comments have stuck with me to this day. One particular incident that has stuck with me happened when I was 13-years-old; one of my classmates was going around the class pointing out the girls she deemed pretty enough to "be a model". On reaching me she pointed and laughed in front of the whole class: "you definitely couldn't be a model". And she was right, as things have turned out I could never have been a model, but for an insecure 13-year-old girl it was a crushing comment that dented my already-low confidence hugely. The comment was delivered either through negligence or through a genuine desire to cause pain, either way was it really necessary? And what did it achieve? The answer is no. It achieved absolutely bugger-all.
Life isn't a competition. We are each perfect in our uniqueness. We ladies are not here to compete with one another, we would get nothing done if this were the case. There is no reason whatsoever for us to put each other down, it doesn't make us stronger, it doesn't produce positive results, it only causes pain and exposes our own insecurities. And so by my experience, by internalising positive thoughts about our fellow women and also by expressing negative ones, these are surefire ways to keep confidence low. So why not try vocalising positive thoughts about your lady friends? (And your man friends too for that matter!). I also believe that "your vibe attracts your tribe" (so the saying goes ;)), so if you are an openly positive person then I am sure you will attract other openly positive people who will help to make you feel even more positive, and the positivity circle will continue!
Since being more open about my positive thoughts on other women I have most definitely noticed a change in my own thought pattern. The more you vocalise positivity the more it is affirmed, and by saying out loud "I like this about you", you immediately create an environment of positivity and there is little room for any negative voices in your head. Furthermore I find that if a complement is genuine the person who has been complemented will a) be unavoidably pleased and b) will often offer a genuine complement back. When people are complemented it breaks down that barrier of embarrassment which I previously mentioned, and they're much more open to expressing their positive thoughts.
So ladies (and gentlemen), I urge you to open up. Celebrate the positive. Complement your friends. Complement your family. Complement your colleagues. Complement strangers. But only if you really mean it. And this will foster an environment around you where women build one another up, where we feel genuinely happy for one another when good things happen, and where we are genuinely proud of each other's achievements.
I've been extremely blessed growing up with a mother, aunties, sister and grandmothers who have all supported me and inspired me. I have amazing friends from all walks of life who have each helped me in their own ways. I have had some really strong female role models who have helped me to realise that there are no limitations to what I can achieve. And I have been extremely blessed with the opportunities that have been provided to me in terms of education and experiences. Thank you to all the amazing ladies who have inspired me and supported me; there are too many of you to name but you are all amazing and I'll let you know in my own way over time how grateful I am.
To finish, I know I said this post wasn't going to be about gender equality, but despite us being in the 21st century it is still an issue, and so I do urge you to look into projects which champion girls rights to see how you can get involved. Check out campaigns such as the Street Child United girls programmes, He For She, This Girl Can - and see what you can do to help celebrate and support some wonderful women, as well as bringing your own voice to the table.
And guys, we love you too, without you we would not be able to do what we do, and without us you would not be able to do what you do. Let's work together on this for a just world in which gender is not an issue. Let's celebrate all humankind. Guys build up your fellow guys. Guys build up girls. Girls build up guys. And of course, girls build up girls. Let's all support each other.
This post has been a little random, but I just wanted to share with you all my experience of how being positive towards our fellow women can really make a huge difference. This is of course true for all our fellow human beings, but there is an unhealthy tendency amongst us ladies to feel like we're in competition with one another, when in fact the opposite is true. We're a team and if we work as one then we really will be unstoppable!
So practice telling yourself that you are perfect as you are, practice being openly positive, and I am sure that your world will become a much more supportive and happy place.
Love Lucy x