At the end of September, Charlotte Philby, the wise woman behind Motherland.net asked The Step Up Club to answer a series of reader career queries. We were flattered and excited in equal measure. Philby is a razor sharp investigative journalist; ex-The Independent, writer at The Guardian, some-time commentator for the big women's glossies, she founded Motherland two years ago - a clever, online news space for women who happen to be mothers.
This week, Philby closed the stellar site. We're not sure why, but we know she has ambition tucked up her sleeve, boots full of drive and an eye for something new. To celebrate the end of Motherland and the start of all things new for Philby, here is one of our most emotive entries. It's on comparison - that old female foe that weakens us when we should all be standing tall.
Question… I often compare myself to other women, which I know isn’t good, but I can’t stop myself. How can I change this pattern of thinking and focus on my own life and achievements rather than those of other people?
Answer... Someone once gave us a piece of advice, and we’d like to hand it to you now: never compare the inside of your head with the outside of someone else’s life. As women, we tend to have a mental ticker tape that’s in a perpetual state of overdrive:
How does have she have four children and a killer career?
Why aren’t we having as much sex as that couple seem to be?
That woman has it all…
The truth is, anyone can have everyone else believing they’re something special – it’s all about smokescreens, chat and in some cases a very edited (and filtered) Instagram account. The problem is, when we see these seeming visions of perfection, by comparison, we feel we are not. We say, don’t buy into it. Overnight success is a myth. The Hemsley sisters, for example, told us how they had worked as chefs for years before hitting the big time. And most people don’t air their doubts, or dirty laundry, on their social media accounts – so step one, is accept that appearances aren’t always reality. Everyone, whoever he or she is, has a life that includes arguments, fat days, job disappointments and children who misbehave in public.
The truth is, anyone can have everyone else believing they’re something special – it’s all about smokescreens, chat and in some cases a very edited (and filtered) Instagram account
So next time you feel comparison rear its ugly head, remind yourself that her inner voice is just as active as yours. Heck, she may be staring over from the other side of the office feeling exactly the same way about you. As we say in our Step Up book, success is a unicorn – a mythical beast that’s hard to pin down – but that doesn’t mean our unicorns all look the same. So start to knock comparison on the head, by taking the bold step of accepting your own uniqueness.
What we’re saying is that if you are happy having a flexible work/life balance, say that involves working four days out of five and doing plenty of school pick ups, but continually beat yourself up that you’re not like your best friend, who sits on the C-suite of a FTSE 100 business, then give yourself a break. Best friend clearly has different life preferences to you. As women, when we can all accept who we are, we become a stronger band of more contented individuals who are able to more wholeheartedly and meaningfully support ourselves and each other.