I want to talk about mean girls and naysayers but I don’t want to actually give them the energy or power by talking about them. Confused? Bear with me as I try to explain where I’m coming from on this.
Over the past 10 years as a business owner, I’ve had my fair share of critics; people who want to tell you all the ways you’re doing things wrong, sometimes to your face and sometimes behind your back, and mostly with no experience in what they are criticizing you about!
I remember the first time I read a bad review written about my salon. I was depressed for days over it and it destroyed me! I also remember shortly after closing my second salon location years ago receiving an email from someone who briefly was part of our team many years earlier. She sent me the most hateful email telling me what a joke I was and predicted that my other salon would close within the year. It was long, it was venomous, and it was sent at midnight, so I’m guessing wine or misery- induced?! I cried and was sick to my stomach for a week over this email. I just couldn’t believe another woman would talk this way and, most importantly, what if she was right? What if I was a failure?! ( Side note: That was about four years ago now and my salon is still open, so if you’re reading this, hey girl, HEY!)
What I’ve realized is mean girls don’t just exist for business owners. They are lurking around the corner ready to pounce on new moms, old moms, celebrities, and everything in between. And social media and our digital age has made it so much more convenient for someone to rip you apart from head to toe without ever having to look you in the face to do it. And this is where I want to leave the mean girls behind and talk about how I’ve learned to navigate around them.
Ladies, there is an actual definition for women empowerment, but it can be interpreted in so many ways. To me, it means lifting women up through encouragement, empowering each other to be our best self, and loving who we are in every season. This isn’t feminism or hippie/crunchy granola stuff! This is being a human 101. So just be a good human!
I can’t imagine that one woman out there believes that navigating through life, motherhood, marriage, careers, and friendship without an instruction manual is easy. So wouldn’t it be nice if we could count on our fellow lady population to help each other along the way?!
Keep The Good One's Close
The most important thing I’ve learned that has helped to sustain me through times of doubt or criticism is to build a tribe, a support system, and a fan club. These are not people that just fawn you with compliments all day. These are the ride or die friends and the people who hand you the oxygen mask when the weight of the world is crushing you.
I have a neighbor and friend who over the past couple of years has really mirrored for me what friendship is. She’s so giving, thoughtful and kind and when I met her I was really rusty at being a friend (and I’m still learning). From watching her, I’ve had a chance to see that a true give and take is what support systems are about: serving others with no strings attached!
Some of my best friends I’ve known for 20 plus years and some I’ve only known for a year. Some friends are better at understanding work life while others are better at working through mom life. In just the past two weeks alone, I was able to have a heart to heart with a fellow business owner about some of the challenges we both were experiencing within our businesses. We were able to help each other work through things that were really weighing heavily on both of us. And then this past week when my toddler got really sick, I was able to frantically reach out to a mom friend to get advice about a 104.6 temperature. These are the moments in life where you feel like you’re in quicksand, but by the grace of a lady friend, you are rescued. These are the people who make up your inner circle; you want to keep them close, but you also want to give all the love back to them when they are down and out!
There is a ton of power in the words we speak and the words we receive. I think back to when I was like 99 years pregnant and I had a client tell me that I looked pretty. I didn’t feel it, but her words were so uplifting to my day. It was such a simple thing she could have kept to herself, but she didn’t. It was so impactful to me that I now make a point of speaking up when I see a glowing pregnant lady or a hard-working barista who just killed it on my one shot almond milk latte (half caff and iced by the way). Our words are powerful and I now choose to lift others up with my words because I know it makes people feel good; it also makes me feel good to know I can have that kind of impact.
Do mean girls still rattle me?! Of course! I’ve just gotten more confident at moving on and realizing the words they speak say more about them than they do about me. I also like to combat that negativity by going out of my way to spread kindness somewhere else. It’s my way of canceling out the bad stuff by giving something good back to someone else. Try it because it’s a total mood boost!
Let’s Bring It In For A Big Group Hug
One thing you hear often in the salon and beauty business is “women are so catty” or “my last salon was so gossipy.” The truth is we all have the power to shut down a mean girl and the simplest way to do that is to just walk away. When they don’t have an audience, they don’t really have anything. I do have empathy for people who live in a negative place because I know there is something much bigger lurking under their insults.
I’m not an expert on this topic and I haven’t always been a kind person. I cringe when I think back to some of the things I’ve said or done in my formative years; times that I participated in gossip or heck-- even started it. Those times in my life were the times that I was most unhappy with myself and I was projecting that poison onto others. Just during the course of writing this post, it dawned on me perhaps the most powerful thing we can do in the company of a mean girl is offer her a big hug and let her in on the secret that women empowerment is a movement and it’s on the rise.
Can we keep this conversation going?! What’s the meanest thing anyone has ever said to you and did you believe it? Have you been witness to a pretty sweet act of kindness lately? I’d love to hear about that too! The point is, we are all women and we share common experiences when it comes to how people around us have treated us and how we choose to treat others. Let’s be open, vulnerable, and ready to share. It’s through these chats that we can learn from each other and change the landscape so that we can all thrive!