How to Keep Your Light Bright (When Another Woman Shines)

24/09/2015 16:52 BST | Updated 23/09/2016 10:12 BST

I can still remember the first time I saw the new girl at school.

Ten years old, she was my first girl crush.

Pretty, stylish, fun and happy, she seemed to have it all.

When she didn't know I was looking, I would gaze at her across the playground or during assembly and marvel at her cool clothes, that set her apart from all of us.

She wore raa raa skirts with sneakers and I thought she was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. She also excelled at everything, being bright as a button and naturally sporty.

Everyone loved her and how could they not?

I totally understood their adoration for her because I was one of her adorers. And yet even though I idolised her and loved to be in her presence, being around her also bothered me.

I didn't understand it at the time.

As a young girl at primary school, I couldn't quite figure out why I felt so uneasy. But now, as a woman, I do and can. Now as a woman I totally get it.

It was the feeling that when her light shone so bright, mine dimmed in comparison.

It was the feeling that I wasn't as good as her, or special, or beautiful.

It was the feeling that whenever I was next to her, I paled into insignificance.

And although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did know that whatever it was, it didn't feel very nice.

And so as much as I adored her, I kept myself at a distance. We were friendly but never friends.

It was much easier to admire her light from afar than have her light outshine my own and so I stayed back, just close enough to watch her in full glory whilst maintaining my own feel good factor.

Make sense?

But as I've grown older, I've realised that it's impossible to ignore a woman who shines bright, even when we really want to.

Because we have to be around them. At work or social gatherings or within our families.

We cannot hang back or keep our distance. We have to be up close and personal, in the midst of their dazzling lights.

And it's no easier is it?

It's no easier when you're around a woman who somehow makes you feel less than. Who makes your light feel dim.

It's no easier when they seem to have it all, in comparison to you. No easier when you meet someone just so damn fabulous for words.

It can hurt, it can wound, it can make us feel totally rubbish. Even if they're the nicest woman in the world.

So how do we deal with the fear of being outshone by another woman?

Well we can ignore them I guess. Gossip or hate them as we seethe with jealousy.

We could allow them to shine bright and let our lights take a hit.

We could watch them and wallow in our negativity.

(Although none of these appeal to me.)


Or, we can deal with it. As a grown up.

My Dad once said to me, "It does't matter how rich, how pretty, how clever or how bright you are, there will always always be someone bigger and better than you."

It's good to remember that when you're around a shiner.

Because it's a great reminder that all of us suffer from the fear of being outshone.

That the woman you envy has probably had more than her fair share of times when she too, has been knocked sidewards by some woman who just screams 'fabulous'.

She too will have experienced occasions when she's felt like a weak nightlight in a room full of neon.

Because none of us are immune to envy or a lack of self confidence, especially when we're confronted by a wonder woman.

But maybe - as I suspect - she just deals with it better.

Perhaps she understands that her light is still strong, even if she feels it's been weakened.

Perhaps she understands that some lights shine brighter than others at times.

Perhaps she understands that being with a wonder woman, can often make your own light shine brighter.

And probably she realises that we can all learn much from these 'shiners'.

Probably she realises that if we allow them to inspire us, we do justice, both to her and ourselves.

Probably she realises that any admiration is fine and healthy as long as we don't allow it to lessen our own self worth.

And if it does?

Well then it probably means that we need to put more effort into stoking up our own light.

That we need to stop being afraid of other women and help other women's lights to shine not just bright but brighter.

And that we need to realise that the only person who can ever dim our lights isn't 'her' but us.

Because I'll let you into a secret that I've figured out. You know that lovely girl whom I adored at primary school?

Well, when I think back now, she actually wasn't any more special than the rest of us. Not really.

She just loved herself in the best possible way.

And if you don't or can't do the same?

Well then perhaps you've got some work to do on making your own light, shine as bright as hers.

So you too can become a shiner.

Katie Portman writes Pouting In Heels, an award winning parenting and lifestyle blog. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.