Whether we like it or not, society is still patriarchal. I love my partner and have nothing but respect for him, but he’s still patriarchal; as is my own family, and many of my friends and work colleagues. I look around, and while women can vote, drive cars and start a business, men still think it’s “cute” when a woman starts a business. Men still speak for other women, all the time, even when they know nothing about the topic at hand and the women are experts in their field. We label it “the delicate male ego” but this is rooted a hell of a lot deeper.
There are no easy answers here. There’s no magic pill; no quick fix. As a girl, you learn to endure. You learn to watch that funny uncle and keep him at an arm’s length. You learn to not let that boy hold your hand if it makes you feel uncomfortable, but because that boy has learned that he can have the world without consequence (because parents never think to teach a boy what’s inappropriate until it’s become such a problem that another parent complains), you, as a girl, endure that moment, freezing in position rather than screaming at him. And god forbid you scream, now you’re the crazy unhinged girl at school. There’s no winning, and it sucks.
From childhood I’ve struggled with this, and after 30 years of living on this planet, I can’t seem to find a way to not struggle with it. Endure. That’s all I know, and it’s likely that’s all you know. Dry your eyes, clean up your smudged mascara, reapply that lipstick, pull your hair back, roll up your sleeves and get back to work. Endure.
The world is changing, but not fast enough, and this is going to be an issue for a few hundred years. Let’s look at slavery. That was a human rights violation, and while most countries stopped the slave trade, racism is still very much alive and well. I’m not being pessimistic, but rather just looking at the fact that while we tell ourselves that women’s rights are finally moving forward, they aren’t; and not at any truly meaningful pace. So until then, we must do what we are taught. We must endure.
I’ll share a personal story with you. I’ve had two relationships with men that I struggled with mentally and emotionally. They aren’t typically the same kind of guy, but they had the same traits in many ways. I was allowed to succeed at whatever I wanted, as long as I didn’t do better than them. Being the incredibly strong communicator I am, confronting the issue seemed to be the best course of action. It was denied that it was the intention and apparently, my reaction was all wrong, because of course they support me, care for me, and want me to succeed. Yet, when an idea I was excited about was put on the table, I was faced with 99 ways that it will not work, not one way that it will.
So what did I do? I endured. But on both accounts, I eventually lost myself. My confidence was gone, imposter syndrome took the wheel, and self esteem was a lofty dream. But one day I woke up and realised what was happening. I realised that I could not carry on like this. I realised that the reason why these men boys couldn’t handle me as a person, is because I’m not meant to be handled: I am an Alpha Woman. Put in the right environment, I flourish. But in the wrong environment, I can shrivel up like I didn’t even exist.
Many Alpha Women end up divorced or alone, or just throw in the towel and let the other party win, but what if you don’t want that? Well, I didn’t want that. I failed twice before, finding myself in a downward spiral of self destruction, but I didn’t want to be alone. I needed to figure out a way to manage my relationship with my work.
Perspective. That’s the change that needed to happen. Every Alpha Woman has a part of their life that makes existing painful. In my past relationships, it was the fact that my confidence was too much for their insecurities. That was not my problem, but for most of my adult life, I always took the blame. Of course, I fell into that trap again in more recent years, but it’s about seeing it with clear vision and moving towards the path that’s right for you as an individual. Taking the blame for things that I didn’t do is a core character flaw; one that is challenging to address, and feels impossible to eradicate.
I know that I’m not perfect, and I try not to beat myself up about it when I discover myself making the same old mistakes. But, I correct the thought process in my head, and face it head on, by correcting the other party when I know the error was not mine. For instance, if something triggering was said by someone who knows that it would be upsetting but said it anyway, it would become an argument that I misunderstood the statement and I overreacted, when it should be that the other person misspoke. The old me would beat myself up about feeling that way, about reacting. The correct reaction should be communicating that their words have consequences, and they should use them more wisely. We all have insecurities, and relationships can be challenging, but it’s so much more challenging for Alpha Women. Also, if you didn’t recognise it, that’s a form of gaslighting, which Alpha Women are prone to encountering, because of a “fragile male ego”.
You are your own tribe. Not everyone wants you to win, so be careful who you share your wins with.
Stay empowered ladies!