Young girls are socialized to get along well with others, to play nicely, and to be aware of others’ feelings. As girls go through middle and high school, some of these values are lost and competitiveness and jealousy play themselves out in a hurtful way. I believe that the unfortunate combination of the aforementioned values and the competition that develops in the later school years contribute to women’s fear of success.
Yes, men too are susceptible to this fear, but I believe that it is a more common problem among women.
Getting what we really want in life takes incredible focus, perseverance, and the ability to forge ahead in the face of failure. There are many times during this journey when we fall flat on our faces, but we have to dust ourselves off and get on with the show. This is not always easy if you lack a support group — the fan club that is cheering just for you. Many women are prone to self-doubt and to internalizing the negative evaluations of others, which manifests as a fear of failure. And when we experience small successes that may lead to larger successes, sometimes a new set of fears overcomes us — the fear of success.
If any of the below rings true, you may have a fear of success.
1. Am I truly worthy of success?
2. If I achieve success, will it make me as happy as I expect it to?
3. Will others still love/like me?
4. Will success lead me to loneliness because my friends will abandon the successful me?
5. Will I be exploited by those who want to benefit from my connections, contacts, et cetera?
6. Will men still like me if I am successful, or will they find me undesirable?
Success and our Friendships
The fact is that success is associated with great satisfaction and yes, it is also associated with some problems. As women transform themselves into powerful individuals they may, in fact, lose some friends. Those friends that were expected to cheer you on may instead become jealous of your success.
My recommendation is that we women re-examine how we take care of each other. There is enough success to go around for everyone! The girlfriend that you cheer on today may be a wonderful and enthusiastic member of your fan club as you work on climbing that tricky ladder of success.
I suggest that, in your journey toward current and future success, you carefully examine your friendships. Friends who support us will be delighted for us and we will recognize this in their tone of voice, their positive affirming statements toward us, and their desire to celebrate with us. Friends who do not support us may become unusually quiet when they hear of our source of joy. They become quiet because they feel deflated and in turn they deflate you.
In my own journey I have learned to differentiate which friends provide me with good energy and which deflate me. So, I have done a bit of housecleaning. This is how you clean house. You do it gradually. Start having less contact with those who deflate you. Spend less time with them on the phone and in person. You don’t need to terminate these friendships abruptly but rather gradually and gracefully.
Good luck on this journey and may all women become cheerleaders in the right kind of way.