by Sarah Jenks
Last week in our private Live Free facebook group, a woman who is coming to Sonoma with us in October posted this:
I just want to say, I love this bright, fun, girlie excitement and energy on this page so much. My roomies (and decidedly new friends) and I were just discussing how just the experience of finding roommates, realizing there’s like-minded women out there who we now get to spend the whole weekend with!! is very comforting. Sarah and Nisha, do you feel like proud mother birds watching their children start to fly the way you always knew we could?? I haven’t done any “work” yet and I feel as though I’ve already come so far! It’s taken me a little while (and I haven’t even listened to the call yet) and I was a little worried, but I’m finally genuinely so excited about this retreat! Loves!
What followed was a long list of responses saying things like, “I was so nervous to sign up” and “I’ve never felt like I’ve been truly accepted by women before this group”.
It got me thinking: it’s such a shame that women rarely feel comfortable and safe around each other. Why is that?
During one summer when I, Sarah, was 8 years old, there was a group of girls who sold lemonade outside of the ice cream store in a small summer community on Fire Island, NY where my family went every summer. They sold it for $1 – steep for lemonade but people would pay anything when there were 3 sweet little girls peddling.
I wanted so desperately to join them, to feel included, but they were the “cool girls” and even at that age I knew to keep my distance.
So being the entrepreneur that I was, I set up my own shop. I collected beautiful shells from the beach and made earrings, pins and necklaces out of them. I set up a little table, a whole block from the lemonade stand and sold my jewelry for $5 a piece. Within the first hour, I had quite the crowd and was selling out quickly.
The girls from the lemonade stand came over to see what all the fuss was about, I was so excited to show them my jewelry and to bond with my fellow saleswomen. I even had ideas of us working together.
They just scowled at my display, and in a flash, ran away with my bike… laughing loudly.
I was shocked and confused, why would they take my bike away? But I had customers to handle so I decided to deal with it later.
After about twenty minutes, the girls returned my bike, and as I was about to get on it after packing up my wagon, I discovered that they had covered the handlebars and pedals in dog poop.
I was so embarrassed, incredibly sad and mostly shocked. What did I do!? How could they be so mean?
My mother explained to me that some people get jealous of others who shine brightly, of people who are confident, or who come up with better business plans, like my shell jewelry. And they will do anything, including covering your bike in dog poop, to take you down a notch so they can feel better about themselves.
As I grew up, there were always people who applauded my successes, but the moments of the kids chanting “SUMO! SUMO! SUMO!” as I got on the bus or girls coming up to my dance partners in Cotillion asking, “why are you dancing with her?” stood out a whole lot more.
So I learned to be cautious, to play small, to assume that no one at a party or at my new school was going to like me until I convinced them otherwise. I went through life assuming that I was guilty of being terribly uncool until proven innocent.
And then I realized that I was holding on to 30 extra pounds because it was “safer”. I was holding back from growing my business because it was “safer”. And I kept my few successes close to my chest to not rock the boat. Because I had a belief that if I was beautiful and successful, the mean girls would put dog poop on my bike.
I went through life feeling like no one really “got me”, like I had all of these talents and so much to give but no one cared and I had no place to put it.
Do you ever feel like that?
I became so uncomfortable in my body, my business was struggling and I was just ready to explode that I had to do something about it.
I decided to find women that were going to love and support me no matter how thin, successful or confident I became and the rest could just go f*ck themselves. Tweet it.
I have to tell you, there is nothing more freeing than finding a community of women who cheer you on when you want to ask for a promotion, when you vow to make six figures this year, when you dedicate yourself to having the most amazing relationship, when you show up looking radiant and they stare at you in joyful, accepting awe.
This is exactly the group of women who are attending Live Free.
No one in the group says, “no one ever has sex after 15 years, get over it”, “do you really need that much money?”, “I can’t believe that bitch lost 20 pounds, she’ll gain it all back in a week”.
If you’ve been holding back from signing up because you’re nervous, if you have some voices in your head saying, “it’s just going to feel like high school again, no one’s going to like me”, “I’m going to be the oldest one there”, “I’m not going to know anyone”, “I really should lose twenty pounds before I go”.
None of that is true. You just have to get over it and sign your ass up!
Here’s the honest truth: your body, career, lifestyle and relationship is not where you want it to be because YOU are deliberately holding yourself back, so you don’t get covered in proverbial dog poop.
The only way to get out of your own way is to start hanging out with a group of women who finally “get you”.
You can learn the theory of weight loss, relationships, or ease until the cows come home, but if are living in fear of how the “mean girls” are going to judge you, then you’re never going to change.
In the comments, even if it feels vulnerable, please share your “Mean Girl” experiences, and how they made you stronger.
Sarah (and Nisha)