I’ve noticed a bit of cattiness in the ‘ole blogosphere lately, with posts skinny shaming in the name of ‘helping women become comfortable in their own skin’. Now I don’t know about you, but if you think the only way to lift people up is by putting other people down, you’re doing it wrong. You are not righteous if in order to make women who are a size 16 and self conscious feel more comfortable, you are making a woman who is a size 6 feel like there is something unattractive about their body shape. But instead of writing about how putting people down is often a sign of one’s own insecurities, I thought I would write about why I think it’s important to surround myself with inspiring women, what it actually means to be inspiring and how to be an inspiration without putting other people down.
I wouldn’t say I have a huge amount of friends, but I feel incredibly lucky to have the women I do in my life and they all inspire me in some way. The women in my life propel me in my own aspirations and help me through the difficult times, but most importantly they make me a better person.
The school friend: My oldest friend in the world is a girl I was sat next to in our first ever French lesson in Year 7. During our 16 year friendship we’ve drifted apart, gone our own ways and done our own things. At points we haven’t spoken for years at a time, not for any particular reason but just because we were living life. The thing is whenever one of us needed the other, a phone call, text, a trip to a café (or pub) and it’s like I’d seen her the day before. She knows when to give people space and she is always there for people going through a difficult time. She is socially in tune with people, which inspires me to slow down and take note of the people around me a lot more.
The home bird traveller: This is someone who went to university with my school friend, but we are all from the same town and became good friends one summer. That was nearly 10 years ago. This friend in particular has always been a bit of a home bird, so when she announced a few years ago that she was upping sticks and moving to the other side of the world, I have to admit, I saw her backing out. Thing is, she didn’t. She packed her backpack, set off for the land of OZ and hasn’t looked back. She took herself out of her comfort zone and created the life she wanted to live. Although I’m watching from afar, I can see how confident she has become and how much she enjoys the life she has built from scratch, if that isn’t inspiring then I don’t know what is.
The Doctor: Now this is someone I’ve met since having my youngest, so I haven’t actually known her that long, but she is one of the most inspiring people I have ever met. Not only does she juggle the work / life balance like an absolute pro, she also has such a positive outlook on life and looks for opportunity in everything. Whenever I am struggling, be that if my relationship is having a rocky patch or I’m finding myself feeling like I’m not sure what direction to steer myself in, she generally knows what to say so I can find my own way through the confusion. That in itself is inspiring, but the reason this lady is on the list is because she makes people believe in themselves and she made me feel like I could do my master’s degree even with two small children and very little support. To help other’s believe in themselves is quite a gift and one I aspire to develop myself.
The Mum: To be honest this one covers a few different women in my social circle. These are the women I have become very good friends with over the past three years and who quite honestly are my support structure with all things parenting. We all have very different views on parenting practices but one thing we have in common is that, regardless of how we parent we are doing the best we can with what we are given. If I’ve had a bad day, they are on the other end of the phone, when I’ve had a bit of a ‘I can’t cope’ moment, at least one of them has been there within 15 minutes to help me. We disagree on a lot of topics from education to discipline, but regardless of if we agree or disagree, there is a no – judgement policy. That’s friendship goals right there!
The instagramers: This applies to all women sporting a body they are comfortable with. This applies to the skinny girls with a thigh gap, the mum who loves her post baby body with all the post baby lumps and bumps, the women who have sculpted their body’s to how they want them and the strong women of every body type who are strong enough to say, “This is me”. The women who inspire other people to either strive for the body they want or help others feel comfortable with the body they have. The women who do this without putting another woman of a different body type down. The women who are confident enough in their own skin to not feel the need to make another woman feel inadequate in some way or another.
Strong people build others up, not tear them down. Inspiration is about making everybody feel like a somebody, not just the select few that have similarities to you.