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Nepotism and feminism: Why the top isn't much fun when you're alone

By Parmis Vafapour

When I look at my friends, I couldn’t be more proud. I am so lucky to be surrounded by such strong, conscientious women. I am so grateful that I am inspired and pushed to be the best version of myself every day. Although I don’t have many friends who are in the same profession as me, I have learnt over the years that it is important not to let that loneliness foster into imposter syndrome. Instead, I try to allow it to force me to reach out and broaden my support network. It’s easy to look over to the other side and see how others approach similar challenges, but it’s important to remember that what has brought them there is different to what you have experienced. Instead of resenting these differences, we need to, as a collective, welcome developing a network where we actively support and mentor one another to better ourselves and grow together. One of the best solutions to imposter syndrome is nepotism and I will explain why.

The way I make sense of impostor syndrome is how I feel when I feel inadequate because of the accomplishments or progression of others, then as a result, it will become a feeling of not belonging. I’m very grateful that I don’t feel like this much anymore. I used to when I first began my studies for medicine but I am lucky to have a mother who constantly reminded me that my battles are different to others. Instead of resenting people for their accomplishments, she advised me to ask how they did it. How did they get where they did? How did they manage to get what they asked? What was the process for them? In this time of reshaping my mentality, I managed to receive support in my ambitions and, as a result, was able to support others in theirs. Everyone needs help. How you can help others may not be apparent at first, but with time and conversation, you can see that when you scratch someone’s back, they will scratch yours too. I think, for women, it’s harder to do this and instinctively be so open to working together as we’ve always been taught from a young age that there’s a level of perfection that we need to achieve independently to conform to society’s unattainable standard. That, unfortunately, has been taught to us to come at the expense of one another. An example of this is through Tyra Banks’ extraordinary journey of making other women’s lives a living hell to enable them to reach the ‘top’. Despite its comedic and entertainment value, art (unfortunately) mimics reality. We have fostered this mentality as a generation. If you’re constantly trying to tear another successful woman down due to your insecurities, you need to take a step back and re-evaluate yourself.

The sense of not belonging and the lack of collective acceptance comes in deep with the feeling of inadequacy that imposter syndrome causes. It is often said that to see is to believe. If you see women like yourself being a part of something that you are inspired to be a part of, you’re more inclined to put your foot in the door. This is where nepotism is important as women of calibre. Nepotism is essentially ‘putting your friends on’. If you have friends within the same industry as you, inspire them to join you on ventures and projects. Nepotism will allow us to grow together and provide more opportunities for each other. I’ve heard of one too many examples of women feeling let down by their girlfriends. Or even worse - feeling intimidated by the opportunities of success and growth that their friends have and feel that they cannot turn to them to ask for support. There have often been times where third and fourth-degree friends have asked me for help because their closest friends weren’t approachable enough. Why? It goes back to imposter syndrome or even doubts in our friends. I always wonder two things when I get friends telling me about the others they can’t rely on. 1. Why are you doubting your ability in asking for that support? 2. Why do you surround yourself with such people that make you feel that you can’t ask? Men have been using nepotism for years to cultivate micro-environments that suit their development and growth better. A known example is Julio and Enrique Iglesias. Even though Enrique entered the limelight without his father’s surname and developed an incredible career for himself, it’s without a shadow of a doubt that he was able to navigate his way through the industry because of his father’s epic history as one of the best selling Latin artists. There is no shame in this and I am not criticising the fact that this has happened in the slightest, but what I want to raise is that women must start doing this more shamelessly. It’s okay for women to do it too and in fact, it might foster a new culture of being able to open-heartedly support each other more often.

So where can you implement nepotism? Anywhere. Have you ever had an idea that was so good but didn’t know how to orchestrate it? Ask your friends. Brainstorm the ideas off each other and work together to build an empire. This is important to do for others, especially when you have the experiences and the resources to do so. It’s okay to keep some things special to yourself but when you can see it will benefit others, there is no reason why not. Some people have the passion and drive but don’t know where to start. If you do know, that’s where you step in. There have been several instances when my friends and I have only had passing ideas and didn’t know where to start with them. But once we brought it all together, now we’re working together to make changes that we have never before imagined.

The top isn’t much fun when you’re alone, so bring your friends with you. There’s so much to learn from each other as we all bring different backgrounds, interests and experiences to the table. What often starts as an idea can be built into something more beautiful if you let it be nurtured.


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