I’ve said it before – I’m one of those friends who, with a bottle of wine in hand, will launch (often unprovoked) into one hell of a pep talk. Luckily for me, my Super Special Girl Group is a myriad concoction of completely different women who love listening to and giving their own pep talks.
How much of our own excellent advice do we practice in our own lives? How many times have we been guilty of telling our friends exactly what they ‘should’ do to be happier/get the job/get the guy or girl/dump the guy or girl/change their lives for the better whilst being utterly hypocritical and continuing to live in our own mess?
Isn’t it about time that we start listening to ourselves, start implementing our own advice, and raise each other up when we no longer have a need for these pep talks, when we can just sit around and soak up each others’ awesomeness instead? Because we ARE strong, independent women, and if the last month has taught us anything, we need to make some BIG changes and come together to fight for what is ours. It seems to me that pretty soon, pettiness and self loathing are going to be WAY down on our list of global priorities.
We have an untapped strength inside us. The strength that it takes to get out of bed on a day when you feel like you’d rather gouge your own eyes out, that’s the strength I’m on about. Sometimes it’s not there. Sometimes you do stay in bed all day. Hopefully you don’t gouge your own eyes out, but sometimes your brain shows you a film of what it would be like if you did. Sometimes you get out of bed AND shower, but you don’t manage to brush your teeth so you kind of wipe them on your sleeve until they at least feel clean (yep, been there). That is still strength. That is still LIFE. We as a species are incredibly resilient. But it only comes to the surface with a force after a tragedy, or after an incredibly low point. It’s there. Be brave, have faith in it, even if you haven’t seen it for a while.
We have to stop comparing ourselves to others. Easier said than done, I know. Meditation has helped me with this, and cutting down on social media time. That’s a big one. Of COURSE your life doesn’t come close to the overly edited lives of other people. OF COURSE it’s going to make you depressed. I used social media to stalk perfect Instagram girls as a form of MENTAL SELF HARM for years. (you know the type, perfect, yoga poses on the beach at sunset, never seems to go to work but always has cash, lives in a hut with a picture perfect boyfriend and a picture perfect dog kinds of girls). I still do occasionally. Let’s not sugar coat it, that’s exactly what it is and you and I both know it. Stop. Put your phone in a different room. Read a book instead. Go for a walk. Breathe.
It’s OKAY that you don’t have it all figured out yet. What even is it? No one has any idea anymore. It’s different for everyone. There isn’t a book on How To Adult. Unfortunately. But if there was, would you want it?? We don’t have to live the same life as was expected of past generations. We can make our own rules. Bask in your own beautiful imperfection.
We have GOT to stop judging each other. We are being subtly encouraged to keep fighting amongst ourselves because when we STAND TOGETHER WE ARE SO INCREDIBLY POWERFUL. LOOK at the global Women’s Marches this month. We have POWER. We have STRENGTH. We can MAKE THEM TAKE NOTICE. We can SHOCK THE WORLD.
We CAN’T do that when we’re focusing more on the ugly top that Amy’s wearing today, than bigger global issues. Amy likes that top, that’s why she’s wearing it. You don’t like that top, so you’re not wearing it. Shut the fuck up and read about how The Patriarchy has been pitting us against each other for MILLENNIA and it’s so deeply ingrained in the global psyche that we aren’t even aware of it anymore. We are all brothers and sisters. We are all the same. The bad guys are the ones telling us that we’re different. Focus on getting rid of them. Not making Amy go home, cry, and stuff the top that was the only thing her parents could afford to buy her for Christmas that year at the back of her wardrobe never to be worn again (I’m talking to you, girls from high school that were supposed to be my friends.)
ALSO if you want to have sex, have sex. Be safe, wear protection, go the Gyno every 6 months and/or after every new partner. That’s YOUR choice. Or, don’t have sex if you don’t want to. BUT DON’T YOU DARE call out the girl (or guy, but we’re focusing on girls right now) who has had sex with lots of different guys. Listen to Ms Norbury. She knows.
If someone else’s faith/gender/sexuality/views offends you, but doesn’t physically harm you or directly impact your life in any way, you’re the problem.
You don’t need to justify your actions to others if what you’re doing feels right to you and doesn’t harm anyone else.
Trust your feelings. Trust your gut. ‘Women’s intuition’ is real. If you know in your heart that something’s off, trust that feeling. If you’re not ready/prepared to act on it, stay conscious of it. Your feelings are valid.
While we’re at it, we need to stop doing things that directly impact others’ lives negatively. If you’re putting other people down to make you feel good, stop. If you’re eating meat, watch Earthlings (a documentary). I’m not just plugging veganism here. On a global scale, we all need to cut down. Don’t eat that extra Big Mac. It’s poison. You know that. You’ve seen the headlines. Put good things into your body.
You don’t have to apologise for asking for help/expressing your needs/voicing your opinions/ranting to the girls.
I have this friend, let’s call her Leanne. Because that’s her name. (That’s right, Leanne, I’m talking about you and the whole internet can read it)
Leanne is a Compulsive Apologiser. She is also one of the most intelligent, kind, thoughtful, hilarious, beautiful, quirky, outright weird people I know. She’s the most successful one in our Super Special Girl Group. She’s about to be the head of her own Genetics Lab, have her own office, and hire an assistant. We’re all incredibly proud of her. She doesn’t believe any of this about herself. We’re working on her self esteem. She’s my sister. She’s an integral part of our Super Special Girl Group. We’re family. There is no judgement in our group. AND YET every time she has a rant, she’ll get all fired up and expressive, and we’ll all be watching her in wonderment and vibing off of her passion, and then in a split second she will shrink back into herself and say something like “sorry I just needed to rant”. I told her a while ago that I was going to start shouting at her every time she apologised until she stopped. Pics or it didn’t happen?
You don’t have to be the same as everyone else. In fact, you can’t be the same as anyone else. Because you’re you. That makes you special. Work on accepting that as a fact, and move on from there.
Practice saying NO when you want to say no but you feel like you ‘should’ say yes.If you don’t want to do something, don’t do it.
Practice saying YES when you want to say yes but you feel like you ‘should’ say no. If you want to do something, do it.
It is OKAY to put yourself first sometimes. The world will not implode if you do. You’re not selfish, you’re surviving.
If it’s not going to get you arrested, you can do whatever you like in public and that’s your choice. Hold hands with your friend/lover. Sit in a coffee shop all day on your laptop (but buy things, support your local businesses). Go to the cinema on your own. Take yourself out for a date. Eat in a restaurant alone. Everyone else is far too busy worrying about what everyone else is thinking about THEM to pay all that much attention to YOU, and if they do notice you, you’re statistically unlikely to make a lasting impression, so you may as well do you.
If it’s funny, LAUGH. If it’s really funny, SNORT. Do not try to stifle who you really are in order to fit in with what other people that you’ve never met deem ‘socially acceptable’.
If your friends are in trouble, help them. If they need you, be there. Friendship is a two-way street, you’ve got to put in the effort if you expect them to sit and listen to you moan about the same guy for the third year in a row.
Having said that, there is no point scoring in a true friendship. If they’re going through a particularly hard time, let them moan. Get dinner because they’re broke, again. Don’t bring it up. Don’t hold it against them. There’s no ‘best before’ date on a friendship. Unless they’re blatantly taking you for granted. In which case, chat to them about it or cut them off. Likewise, if you’re broke again let them buy you dinner. It’s not charity. They’d really rather have you there and pay than not have you there at all.
Let go of what/who no longer serves us. I’m still working on this one, but I have a great personal story:
I have this friend, let’s call her Siobhan, because that’s her name (see above). She and I have known each other for about 10 years. During that time, we’ve carried each other through A LOT. This particular time, she was away at uni and relapsing into her eating disorder. I was at home and relapsing into mine. We realised that we were enabling each others’ bad habits. She sent me a message one day that was along the lines of “I love you, but this isn’t working, I think we need a break” so we didn’t talk to each other for about 6 months, and we both got ourselves back on the wagon, and we reunited, and we’ve been besties ever since. I don’t know what I’d do without her. But I also know that if we needed another break in the future, I could ask for one, and she’d respect that, and we’d come back to each other when the time was right, as if nothing had ever happened. That’s real love.
Some people aren’t that understanding, and I’ve had to let go of people in the past that just weren’t right for me anymore, and yes I miss them, but no I don’t regret standing up for myself and making difficult decisions to keep myself happy and healthy.
We CAN and SHOULD love our bodies. Hear me out. I know it’s not simple. It takes years. It’s a constant battle. Overcoming BDD and not being able to have people look at me on profile because I hated my nose still haunts me. BUT I got there, it’s all about learning to see your body as YOUR vessel, not how attractive you appear all day every day to OTHER PEOPLE. You’re going to be with you for your whole life, it is SUCH a waste of time fighting against the fleshy thing that carries your consciousness.
“If tomorrow, women woke up and decided they really liked their bodies, just think how many industries would go out of business.” —Gail Dines, professor of sociology and women’s studies at Wheelock College in Boston
Learn to take a compliment. Think about your best friends. You think they’re all beautiful, right? You could point out flaws if you really wanted to because everyone has them but you don’t because you love them and you think the sun shines out of their face. Now why is it so hard to believe they think the same way about you? If they say you look great, say THANK YOU. Don’t make their compliment invalid by saying “oh no I look like shit today” because they’ll stop complimenting you, and you’ll be sad, and they’ll be sad because they really do think your hair looks great today. (put in comic about girl compliments)