An open letter from us to you
I think most of the time it is not that we believe it’s impossible to have the power, success and confidence – maybe, just maybe it’s also the fact that we are conditioned not to like it that much in other women and ourselves.
It’s really quite the paradox, isn’t it? The more joyous a woman becomes in her success and ambition, the less people like her. Why is it that we in theory want to be strong, powerful and confident women, but are ultimately also scared to not be liked because of it?
Talking to my fellow strong-minded and confident ladies: usually, being called arrogant starts early. ‘Bossy, arrogant, entitled. Who does she think she is?’ My personal answer back then and still to this day: playing it down. With the best of intentions in mind, we sabotage ourselves out of actually being the strong and confident women we want to be, all in the name of making sure we are still liked.
Maybe, therefore, it doesn’t start with giving the permission to be confident. Maybe the first true step is to admire it in other women.
We will never become something we are secretly and unconsciously not very font of in others. Next time you look at a confident women and think “she is cold”, “she is arrogant”, “she is aggressive”, “she is a b**ch”. Maybe look a bit deeper, is she actually rude or mean or is she just ambitious and working hard towards her dreams and goals?
We see it everywhere: in movies, the ambitious and successful woman loses her romantic relationships and at times friendships. She steps up her game in her career and all of a sudden her closest friends and partners do not like her anymore. Why? She is not a damsel in distress anymore, she got independent, she has her own interests and she does not make caring for another human the sole purpose of her existence and just like that, she is ostracised. Our fear of abandonment kicks in. From an evolutionary standpoint, being part of the group vs not being part of the group literally meant life or death. It does not mean that anymore in today’s world, but it is still one of the most significant fears.
Will that be me when I go after the career I want? Will I be perceived as cold, unlovable? Too determined, not caring enough?
In our friendships, we relate so much more to pain and insecurity and nurture those. Almost every ‘women in business’ conference/ talk and networking group relates to the bad stories and how hard it is. There is little celebration, but a lot of hardship.
Wouldn’t it be a much more interesting movie, networking group, friendship and world when not every successful and ambitious woman has to be unlikable and we all celebrate her instead?