In our series, “How to Be the Leading Lady in Your Own Life”, we look at small but significant ways our leading lady role gets taken away from us and how to get it back. You deserve be the leading lady in your life. But, what exactly does “being the leading lady in your life” mean?
In the movie, “The Holiday”, starring Kate Winslet as Iris. Arthur, the elderly man she befriends and helps, ends up helping her in this scene. Iris (Kate Winslet) is out to dinner with Arthur.
Arthur Abbott: You know what I’ve been asking myself all night?
Iris: What? Why I’m bothering you with all these questions?
Arthur Abbott: I’m wondering why a beautiful girl like you would go to a strangers’ house for their Christmas Vacation, and on top of that spend Saturday night with an old cock-up like me.
Iris: Well, I just wanted to get away from all the people I see all the time… Well, not all the people… one person. I wanted to get away from one… guy. [she sobs]
Iris: An ex-boyfriend who just got engaged and forgot to tell me.
Arthur Abbott: So, he’s a schmuck.
Iris: As a matter of fact, he is… a huge schmuck. How did you know?
Arthur Abbott: He let you go. This is not a hard one to figure out. Iris, in the movies we have leading ladies and we have the best friend. You, I can tell, are a leading lady, but for some reason you are behaving like the best friend.
Iris: You’re so right. You’re supposed to be the leading lady of your own life, for god’s sake! Arthur, I’ve been going to a therapist for three years, and she’s never explained anything to me that well. That was brilliant. Brutal, but brilliant.
Supporting Role Scenarios
Let’s take a look at two common scenarios that play out in the everyday lives of women.
I was out to lunch at a bistro yesterday and noticed the table next to us. Women circled the rustic table and chatted away. When the waitress came to take their order, each ordered a salad with dressing on the side. But, one woman stumbled, “Well…I was thinking of a club sandwich, but since everyone is having salad…I will to.” Did she really want a salad or did she order a salad because everyone else did? I didn’t ask her but by the look on her face, she swayed with the majority.
I wondered what tapes played in her head while she decided.
If I order a club sandwich…
They will think I eat too much…
They will think that’s why I am carrying fifteen extra pounds…
They will judge I am not eating “healthy”.
We women, take a supporting role when we compare ourselves to others. We glance around to see if we measure up. We look if our jobs, clothes, husbands, hips or houses are up to what others have. Measure up? To what? Someone else’s yard stick?
Another situation unfolded at a housewares party I attended last year. The party was your typical party where the aproned leader presents the products, you eat bacon wrapped shrimp and have a glass of pinot-noir while relaxing in someone’s living room. You might win a vegetable peeler in the raffle. The obligatory order you place includes gadgets that solve your kitchen prep problems. You know the drill.
During the mingling time before the presentation a group of two women looked around the room and here’s the conversation:
“Sheila has a beautiful home, such a talent for decorating.”
“Yes, she does. My house looks horrible compared to this.”
“There are stains on the carpet. Now I don’t feel so bad.”
“True. Thank goodness!”
Two women, both comparing themselves to this other woman, and both putting themselves down. Why?
Why We Compare Ourselves to Other Women
If you look at human history, it is natural to compare yourself to other humans. It lets you know where you stand if you need to compete for food or resources to survive. Or how you fit in if the tribe needs to defend itself if attacked by a predator. But luckily, no one has been attacked at a housewares party nor have they starved. The spinach dip made that impossible.
We do feel inferior when in groups of women. It’s NORMAL. These situations can take you back to the middle school lunch room where seats are preassigned based on popularity. Luckily, we grew up and purchased our own table and can sit wherever we choose. But everytime we compare ourselves to other women, we chip away at our own self-confidence.
Leading Role Scenarios
Let’s look at two instances placing women in leading roles.
“What would you like for lunch?” the server asks.
“A club sandwich, light on the mayo, and wheat bread. Thank you!” the woman answers.
She was the leader for her own meal. If she chose the salad, and it wasn’t what she wanted but went along with the group, she is left feeling like she let herself down. But now, she leaves the lunch feeling confident.
The second situation is no different.
“Sheila has a beautiful home. She has a talent for decorating.”
“Yes she does. So relaxing and nice to be here.”
Both women probably noticed the stain on the carpet. But who cares?
Do you think the women feel better in the first situation where they compared themselves to others or the second where they chose not to compare? My bet is the second.
You Are a Leading Lady
Your life is your own and you deserve to make choices that fit with what you want. Small choices have a big impact on our self-confidence. Even if it is a just club sandwich and not a salad. Try making a small choice for yourself today and see how you feel. I bet it will feel just fine.
You are the leading lady in your own life!