Women are jealous, women pull up the ladder. Lies.
Women are jealous of other women’s success. I read versions of this myth in magazines and blogs all the time and every time I’m mystified and straight-up skeptical. It’s not my experience. Nearly every accomplishment in my life has been encouraged, supported and nurtured by other women.
When I was working full time and going to university around the edges of my life, it was my English professor – a woman – who made sure I knew I had what it takes to succeed in academia. While I was still an undergrad, it was my female Poli Sci professor who encouraged me to apply for a job as her research assistant -and hired me. My first job out of university: hired by a women, mentored by two. Later, when I needed a job after being at home for four years, it was a woman who hired me and taught me everything I needed to know about the job she’d been doing for 20 years. When I was vomiting all day, every day for all 39 weeks of my last pregnancy, it was a woman executive who stopped by my desk and told me how she’d successfully handled the same situation. Go ahead and come in late, just make the critical meetings. Work from home. Work from bed if you need to. And right now, when I’m writing my first book while nurturing my five month old baby and chasing my four year old (the older girls are in school during the day), it’s the women in my family – my mother, my sister, my niece, my oldest daughter and even our oldest son’s best friend! – who are showing up for me so I can make time to write.
No one’s showing me any signs that they’re jealous of me. And I’m not jealous of any of them.
I know a woman who has nannies and household staff. I’m not jealous, I’m thrilled for her. Rise, darling, rise. My mother has a goddamned swimming pool and I’m not jealous. I’m grateful. Rise (and swim!). I have friends who are famous and I’ll admit I want me some of that but I’m not jealous. Mine is coming. Rise, sister, rise. I know women with babies who sleep through the night. True story. May we all rise to those heights. I have worked with women who have books on the NY Times Best Seller’s list. I’m not jealous, because now I know – intimately – it’s possible. Rise! Six figure advances? RISE UP, RISE UP. I know women who have their business and career shit together, and I don’t, and I’m not jealous. I’m impressed. Go on and rise! I know women with asses made of granite. Excellent! Rise. I’ll sit on mine on the sofa. I’m not jealous. I’m comfortable – and I’m super happy for you.
When I see women with success and swimming pools, I am happy for them. I wish them more of everything. I wish all of us more, not less.Jealous? Not even a bit. I celebrate your rise.
And when I look around, that’s what I see in the women I know. I don’t see anyone sniping at me or trying to hold me back. I don’t see anyone jealous when I achieve something I’ve been striving for. I see celebration. I see women ahead of me holding space for me, calling me forward into the woman they know I can be.
Now, as for successful women pulling up the ladder behind them: this has never happened to me.
Every single successful, empowered woman I have ever met, interviewed, worked with, or worked for has made a special effort to invite me forward – and in some cases, even invite me into their lives. When I’d been blogging for five minutes, a best-selling author said yes to an interview and gave me 90 minutes of her time and some solid and sorely-needed career advice. And who set that interview up? Another rock-star woman who didn’t have to help me but wanted to see me rise. The women who read my blog posts and articles are constantly sending me love and light and radical encouragement – you should see my inbox today: pure love – and they do this because they want to see me rise. And so they fuel my rise.
And all of this is not because I’m such a special snowflake. It’s because most women don’t pull up the ladder behind them. They build stairs.