“I think how I would define growth depends on the situation. Growth starts with acknowledging that something needs to be changed and making a decision to change it. No matter what the outcome is, just the fact that you made a decision to alter something is growth in itself.”
Gwen is an International Communications and Culture Coordinator for ViacomCBS. Receiving her undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she moved to New York with her husband in 2018. For someone who had an identity deeply rooted in being a successful college student, it proved to be difficult after college to step into the various roles that her next chapter would require.
“I graduated from college, moved to a new city, started a new job, and got married all in a span of five months. There was no manual on how to successfully do all of those things at the same time. And looking back at that time, it is crazy to see how my mental health was really in a terrible place.”
The labels and titles that we have to live up to can damage our identity so much in the process. We all think that in order to be successful in a role – whether it is as a sister, wife, girlfriend, mom, manager, and many others, that it has to look a certain way. But as Gwen reminds us, so much of success is based on our perspective.
The Comparison Factor
“I just knew that if I didn’t have the flashy job offer after college or the newest designer clothing item, I was falling short. I really had to stop and ask myself, who was all of this for in the first place?”
Gwen touched on the fact that she spent a lot of time growing up obsessing over people around her. She expressed that she was so happy to finally be in a place where she stopped putting her own opinion last and valuing where she is at in her life and who she is.
“I spent so much time growing up comparing myself to those around me and it was so draining. If I had known what I know now, that your journey is your journey, I would have met myself much quicker. But what I will say is that because I spent so much time in middle and high school caring about what everyone else thought, now it is like I don’t care. I can fully appreciate where I am now because of how I used to be.”
Hindsight is 20/20. And as easy as it is to sit and muddle over what we could of done differently, the truth is that we can’t change what has already happened. As easy as it is to look back and feel embarrassed by how we chose to handle something, the truth is that we are only able to appreciate who we are because of what we have been through. But the choice is up to us. I can sit and complain about how I am still not the woman I envision myself to be, or I can be proud that I have come as far as I have.
The Invisible Race
“One of the most important life lessons that I have learned is that God is intentional. Everything that has happened to you is for your good. And I have also learned to appreciate that your journey is your journey. Once you stop trying to keep up in this hypothetical but very real race, and just focus on what you want, life just becomes so much easier.”
But part of learning how to step out of the community race that we feel like we are thrown in is admitting when we are less than perfect, which Gwen says is one thing that hinders women from admitting when they are having a hard time to each other in friendships.
“When we admit our shortcomings to each other, it can almost feel like we are admitting that the other person is better than we are. You are ahead of me in the game. However, spoiler alert is that there is no game! Women are so strong and so powerful, yet so many messages poison our perception of each other and make us feel like we cannot trust other women.”
3 Things You Can Remember Today to Be at Peace With Your Journey
- Remember that by hating on someone else, will not make your journey any more successful. You won’t gain any more success by taking away from someone else’s.
- Your relationships will be stronger and more genuine when you stop looking at others as the competition but rather as a source of knowledge and wisdom. There is a reason that we all go through what we do, to be a light to someone else. Don’t turn a blind eye to the people in your life, who can actually help you get to where you are trying to go.
- Remember that if you focus too much on everyone around you, you will miss out on the beauty of your own journey.
Let that sink in for a moment what Gwen said, that there is. no. game. No matter how hard you try to get ahead, to be the best, to achieve success before someone else, to achieve the “I have it all together look” – you will never achieve real success because you chose to believe that success had a seat limit. There is enough sunshine for us all, and by encouraging and empowering other women instead of secretly hoping they fail will take you so much farther than running alone ever could. Whether they got married before you, had kids before you, bought a house before you, or achieved a certain job at work before you, it will never take away from what your journey has the potential to be.
I hope we are all able to start looking at women as a source of inspiration, not as our biggest competition.
Keep Watering Your Garden ladies, and thank you so much for sharing your story with us Gwen.