My first year of college I internally made the decision not to pursue a career in broadcast journalism. Why? Because too many people in my freshman communications course held the same ambition.
If we all wanted the same thing, there would be no room for me. I quickly added a second major and decided maybe politics or marketing would be a better fit. Less competition.
Yes, I said the “C” word.
I’m not sure how or why my thinking always revolved around competition, but it used to. Always. Sometimes it still does.
I like to win. I prefer situations where I know I can win. If I assess the climate as a place where I’ll never succeed, I move on.
This thinking almost ended my writing career–before it even got started!
Time and again those voices in my head tell me that the world doesn’t need another woman talking about this issue. “You don’t have anything to add.” “You don’t write very well.” “No one cares about the words you say.”
But then I read something about the Scarcity Mentality. I knew the concept from reading Stephen Covey’s, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” a decade (or more) ago. But, I didn’t think it could apply to my writing.
Or my body image.
But, it does.
The scarcity mentality revolves around the concept that there’s only so much “pie” out there. There are only so many “slices” so if someone else gets one, you are out of luck.
It emphasizes that there’s a limit to everything and if you don’t compete well, you won’t make the cut.
I knew this was a problem for me. As I continued to constantly compare myself to other writers, I felt like they were getting “all” of the book contracts. I felt like they were getting “all” of the readers. Or, I felt like they were filling “all” of the speaking spots for Christian women.
But, the truth is, God has given us each a voice. Even if two women have the exact same message, they’ll still say in in a different way based on their own experiences, background and story.
Scarcity Mentality and Body Image
When it comes to body image, I also held the scarcity mentality. Somehow, twisted in my mind I believed that there was only room for one “type” of beautiful woman. I heard people speak of beauty in other cultures, or different styles of beauty, but those concepts never resonated. There was only one type that I recognized. It was the type you most commonly see on TV or in magazines. Stick thin. Gorgeous hair. Flawless skin. Curves in all the right places.
In my Body Image Scarcity Mentality, I didn’t think there was room for me to be considered beautiful unless I could meet that criteria. I didn’t believe that this world had enough space in it to accept more than one definition of beauty. So, I made it my idol and secretly committed to the pursuit of attaining the standard of beauty my culture told me was best.
Opposite of the Scarcity Mentality is the Abundance Mentality. Covey believes you can only develop this type of outlook if you have a strong sense of personal worth. In the Abundance Mentality, you believe that there is enough for everyone, and still some to spare! You look at the world–not through the lens of competition, working to get your slice of the limited pie–but rather through the lens of plenty.
How would our struggles with comparison and body image change if we adopted the Abundance Mentality?
What if we could truly believe that it’s okay for us all to be beautiful in different ways–even if they aren’t the ways the magazines tout we should be “beautiful.” Or, what if we operated from a place where we didn’t feel threatened by others’ physical beauty or attributes?
What if we were truly confident in our value as God’s unique creations and as those redeemed by Jesus’ blood, and believed that God had a purpose for each of us . . .What if we believed that he gave us everything we needed, physically, to achieve that purpose?
What if we believed that, through Him, we have all we need.
What if we believed that, through Him, we were enough?
We’d have no need to compete, no need to compare, and no need to worry that there wasn’t enough pie. In fact, we may find ourselves happy to encourage each other, build each other up, and even share some pie.