"It's lonely at the top" was the impactful phrase that my mother's high school accounting teacher used when he noticed that she and her female classmates weren't the friendliest due to their intelligence.
Though it was hard not to conform to the majority of the group to fit in, she heeded the words of her wise superior, and held her head high despite the comments akin to "teacher's pet" and "goodie two-shoes."
Though she was a teenager at the time, she took those words to heart and later applied them throughout life when necessary.
She remembered them when she found it difficult to find a man who wasn't intimidated by her, when she graduated summa cum laude and top tier in her university's educational department, and when she landed her first teaching job at the tender age of 22.
Years later, her oldest daughter was in the 4th grade, and that little girl soon took her mother's place as the constant source of everyone's jokes. After winning various academic and musical contests and assuming the position of the consummate "teacher's pet," she was left with very few friends in class.
That little girl was me. To combat dealing with the elementary brouhaha and helping push aside feelings of hurt to carve out a path for blossoming success, my mother reassured me and calmed my spirits by saying, "It's lonely at the top, Steph."
At 9 years old, I couldn't grasp the concept, but down the line, I knew exactly what she was talking about. If you are a woman with a Type-A personality who has the natural ambition to hustle, I'm sure similarly difficult social and emotional situations have overwhelmed you over the years.
Let's face it: Strong women are threatening, and this personality trait will impact your friendships, relationships, etc. However, it is a hell of a lot better to be a diamond among stones than to roll with the rest of the rocks.
Here are seven reasons why it's definitely lonely at the top:
1. Loss of friends
Over the years, this is inevitable. Some people do not like being around others that are perceived as go-getters because it makes them feel that they are inadequate.
If you stand out in a crowd, the majority of people will fail to revere you, but instead will side with and follow the road most-frequently traveled. Though some losses are heartbreaking, if friends fail to support you or choose to turn on you in the midst of your success, they weren't real friends to start.
2. Difficulty finding a man
Even the most secure men may be intimidated by a girl who has her sh*t together. Due to their physiological wiring, males feel that they should be the strongest, most intelligent and most together in a relationship since they are naturally accustomed to wanting to protect women in all ways possible.
A Type-A girl is not the easiest of targets since she will always keep a man on his toes. Some men prefer low-maintenance individuals who have more even-keel personalities, while others are just plain scared of independent women.
In addition, a hustler is typically picky and looks for all of the "necessaries" and "nice to haves" before settling on just any man.
3. Dealing with jealousy
The green-eyed monster is a nasty virus that can infect even the closest of friends and family. Success breeds envy, and you may be forced to endure put-downs, snooty remarks and spiteful attitudes.
People want what they can't have, and if you have what they want, you have just inherited the front seat for targeting and bullying.
4. Feelings of inadequacy
Ironically enough, the majority of girls who hustle (that I know of, at least) semi-frequently ask themselves if they are good enough. They are brimming with self-confidence, put their best foot forward in all ways possible and have attained such levels of victory and adulation, yet still question whether they have done all that they can to be considered a success.
This is something that all sharp individuals suffer from when he or she second-guesses his or her intensity of accomplishment.
5. The inability to truly relax
Born with an innate ability to always do things better, faster and stronger, finding time to sit down and do nothing is quite the challenge.
If you're not studying for a test, you're at the gym. If your workday has come to a close, you're dedicating your time to a side job or hobby. If you're finished studying, working or hitting the gym, you're out with friends.
Couch potato time is important, and the time allotted into schedules is few and far between. Even when you're lying in front of the TV with a big bag of chips, your mind is usually elsewhere.
This one trumps the rest. Stress is that annoying second cousin that will never leave you alone at family reunions. It's the splatter of coffee that drips onto your white pants in the car.
Basically, it's the worst thing ever. Sometimes, no matter what, you can't shake it. Whether you've piled on too many side projects, have had exhausting days at the office or are cramming for final exams, stress can take hold of you and can bring down your mood, spirits and vigorous attitude.
To fight this ugly battle, we eat, we cry, we workout, we vent and use these mental and emotional roadblocks as catalysts to move forward with a badass sense of self-determination.
7. The need to be #1
We are the experts in our fields, but those who hustle do not settle for success and notoriety in just one avenue. We feed off of triumph and are hungry for the label of "best" in every category.
We feel the need to stop traffic wherever we go, we fight to become the soloist in the town orchestra's concert, the demonstrative example in kickboxing class and the person whose organic Crème brûlée tastes best at the local Sunday farmer's market.
The quest to be the best is an internal battle of personal satisfaction vs. confident acceptance in individualistic abilities, and there is never a clear winner. We have dreams of becoming CEOs, talk show hosts, religious leaders, government officials, doctors and scientists. We weren't born to be ordinary; we were born to stand out and work hard to achieve personal success.
Yes, it is sometimes lonely at the top, but I would rather stand at the summit of a mountain by myself than crouch at its base and lose myself within the crowd. Keep your chins up, my dear hustlers. You are forces to be reckoned with who will wade and float among the challenging waters of life.
Photo Courtesy: Beyonce