There is another way.
From the moment we are born, we seek attention and affirmation. Inherently, this isn’t selfish. It’s a psychological and emotional need of each and every one of us. Still, of course, our need for attention can become selfish if we seek it in unhealthy ways.
As women, there is a beauty within each of us just begging to stand out and be enjoyed by others. We see it in the myriads of creative crafts on Pinterest, manifesting themselves in the homes of our crafty girlfriends. We see it in the efforts we will take to pretty ourselves up before a date night or a wedding. Even the way we dress our kids is an expression of our creativity, and how it can affect the lives of others.
Despite all this shared beauty, there’s a peculiar phenomenon that happens when you gather women together in the same room—or even the same community: Competition.
It’s that feeling when a female coworker hits a huge milestone while I’m falling behind (and falling apart). Or that rare night when I get a bunch of compliments on my outfit and I feel a sense of arrogance rising: “I’m the prettiest woman in the room.” But even that is an ugly experience.
Is there a way to reveal beauty with confidence, without putting other women down? How do we avoid competition and receive the attention we long for? Here are three suggestions for a place to start.
1. Choose to be Content
This doesn’t mean getting rid of all the high heels in your closet. It means choosing to feel beautiful and confident in your own skin, even when you don’t have a pair of pumps on to give you a boost.
2. Don't be So Critical
I had a friend in high school who had “perfect pitch”—her ear was so fine-tuned that she could recognize when a note in a song was even the slightest bit out of tune. I wondered, “How does she enjoy any music at all?”
When we’re overly critical of ourselves, we become perfectionists. And since none of us are perfect, that thinking will lead us to never be content, to never feel whole. There are always things we can improve on. But when you look closely with the right attitude, you’ll find there are more things to celebrate about yourself than there are to criticize.
3. Accept the Unaccepted
When you’re highly critical of yourself, you are also highly critical of others. It’s not bad to set high standards for yourself and others—we are capable of great things, and should strive to reach our potential. But refusing to cherish the beauty that already exists inside us and around us makes for an attitude of judgment that will kill your enjoyment of life. If you’ve ever known friends who don’t feel comfortable telling you their struggles, it may actually originate from a lack of acceptance of oneself.
Life isn’t primarily about self-improvement; it’s about loving others and being loved. Let that be your priority. I’ve found that love often makes more room for change than judgment anyway.
Meg Baatz is a blogger and entrepreneur.