Does anyone remember that scene, during The Cosby Show, when Sandman Sims kept challenging Bill Cosby to a tap dance challenge? Sandman Sims kept yelling “Challenge,” but Bill Cosby wouldn’t give up no matter how exhausted he was. That’s how I feel some women’s dispositions are toward other women. There is always some competitive feat to prove who is better than the other. I’ve been guilty of it myself when another competent woman is “pitted” against me with a job, a man, or an activity. It’s like this alter ego emerges, which will not let that woman be viewed as a better lover, friend, co-worker or businessperson. I’ll be damned!
However, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to check my ego at the door, or at least be more cognizant of it. Sometimes it’s human nature, when it comes to matters of the heart; but other times it’s just pure vanity, immaturity, and insecurity. I still have friends who feel like they have to prove that they are better at everything than you, or any other woman in the room, are. They want to show that they are brighter, flyer, or in some way superior to anyone that they deem has the power to decide. To me, it gets exhausting. Everyone is good at what they are good at, and that’s that. The “super ego” has to be controlled, because I’ve seen it ruin relationships.
The episode of Girlfriends, when Joan is completely jealous of Toni getting married first, is a prime example of what goes on in some female relationships- even close friends. The idea that one person is supposed to be “first” in achieving anything is a notion that could rot any friendship to its core. Instead of being happy for another woman, or acknowledging and respecting talents that she possesses, there has to be this underlying feeling of competition for the other woman to feel secure within herself. It’s sad that we have to fight for sisterhood harder than men have to fight for brotherhood.
The competitive spirit is something I’ve always championed, but not when it’s pitted against a friend, or another woman who isn’t looking at you as a threat, but more as an equal. We also shouldn’t let men instill that “catfight” mentality into the dynamic either, because they are the only people being entertained by it. Instead of being instantly defensive, look at the relationship as being stronger in numbers. Another smart woman, in her own way, is doing her thing. Why should there be hate attached to someone trying to achieve success? Sometimes we are only competing against ourselves, and our egos. That competitive spirit is welcomed in certain arenas, but pose bigger problems in our personal lives if we let it.
A lot of people question, and hate on, Oprah and Gayle’s friendship, but I think that it’s a relationship that some women need to analyze. Here is a woman whose friend is highly successful, yet has no problem supporting her friend and championing her success, even if it surpasses her own. They both started out as journalists, but Oprah had a bigger calling, and Gayle did not let that get the best of their friendship. Of course, there probably was a time that Gayle looked at her career and thought, “I’m just as smart, articulate, and engaging,” but she didn’t let that deteriorate her self-esteem or their friendship. She checked her ego at the door.
I commend Gayle’s integrity. And everyday I work on myself and try not to get caught up in my friends’, or other women’s, need to compete with me. If my friend is good at what she does, I don’t question it or try to disprove her value in any situation. If my friend is achieving something before I am, like earning more money, getting married, or accomplishing a goal, I don’t try to dissect the reasons why. I try to be happy for her and accept that my journey and lessons are different. I hope that women read this blog and strive to do the same.