Women are amazing. We are fabulous collaborators and encouragers, we take pride in helping others achieve their goals, and we are great at building community wherever we go. From a very young age, we are taught to think of others’ needs and to help smooth the way for those we encounter. We run to Mom when we need comforting and learn to support others through the example of the women in our life. (NOTE: this does NOT mean that men do not have these attributes, but that society has established that this is the role we want women to fulfill. They do their job well.)
All of these positive qualities, however, have a dark side.
Sometimes they hold us back from achievement.
Sometimes they even make us feel bad about winning.
It’s ok to win. It’s ok to WANT to win.
Sometimes we worry so much about what other people think about us that we forget to revel in our victories. They don’t come easy; the hard work doesn’t always pay off but when it does it’s a wonderful feeling. Society loves to whisper doubt into your ear. You’ve felt it before–the hushed inner voice that makes you feel bad for beating someone on strip because she’s not feeling well or has an injury or has had a stressful time at home lately or has a lot on her plate at work or…
Maybe it’s real voices. The ones you hear directly criticizing you at a tournament for wanting to win “too much”, that it’s better to do this sport for fun and exercise alone. It’s safer that way, you see. Or the looks you get as you warm up. The vibes you get from people who don’t invite you out to dinner or drinks after events anymore. The comments from your family as you repeatedly choose to go to tournaments to better your skills rather than sit at home with them for their preferred weekend activity of “Netflix and chill”.
You know what? All of that dims in comparison to knowing that you have truly worked your hardest and have the results to show for it. Haters gonna hate, so they say. Just don’t be one yourself when the time comes for you to lose. Do it with grace and dignity. You might even–gasp!–be proud of the person who beats you, especially if she hasn’t done it before. Our sport only has one winner, after all. It won’t always be you on top.
But the days you are…
They’re the best, aren’t they?
You–really–want to win, don’t you?
Then go out there and take it. Work hard for it and do it.
I’ll be so proud of you when you do.
Then I’ll work my a** off all the harder to beat you next time.
That’s what winning does. It’s awesome for the person who’s on top, no question. But it can also serve as an impetus for everyone else to put in just that much more effort to topple your reign. That’s even more awesome. With that attitude we build a community of bada**es, break the stranglehold society puts on our achievement, and celebrate one another’s success.
When has hard work paid off for you? When have you tried your hardest and NOT gotten what you wanted? Which taught you more of a lesson?
Note: interestingly, I began writing a draft of this post before winning the Vet40 Women’s Sabre event a few weeks ago. Guess this has been on my mind and heart for a while…