The Power of sisterhood and the beauty of community.
Updated: Sep 5
The words of this piece have been floating around the corners of my mind for weeks, sometimes resting at the forefront. Experiences and conversations with sister friends keep me grounded and grateful for the beauty of my community, it makes me keep writing and letting out my inner thoughts with the hopes of creating virtual community with my readers. Life, if we’ve lived long enough, read enough, we realize the thread and core of humanity is so intertwined, so similar. History shows us we do better, live longer, healthier, more meaningful lives if we are rooted in community.
In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, he begins the book with the mystery of Roseto, aptly named because the first settlers moved to the US from a community in Italy named Roseto, they settled on the eastern foothills of Pennsylvania. What baffled doctors and outsiders at the time, Roseto had the lowest rates of heart disease. People who lived in the community were not dying from ailments they were dying of old age. Crime was minimal, they did not struggle with alcoholism or drugs, researchers were curious, what special diet and traditions were they incorporating into their daily lives. Well, there was no special diet or ritual, nothing spectacular about the community’s location nor did they carry a anti heart disease gene. The secret lied in the power of community. The Rosetans were a close-knit community, who worshipped together, helped each other, visited and cooked for friends often. It was the norm for three generations to live under the same roof. The elderly commanded a high level of respect. What also stood out, the wealthy did not flaunt their wealth and assisted with members of the community who did not have the same favour. This camaraderie was the secret to long, healthy life in Roseto.
Studies have shown us over and over, people who are surrounded by love, a strong support system, and someone to reach out to in times of need live longer, happier, and more fulfilled lives.
When I was 19, getting ready to move to Oklahoma to begin my undergrad studies, a colleague said to me, I know you are scared but don’t worry about it, God always sends people to help us.
What I know for sure, life was not meant to be lived alone, we were created for living in community with each other. The narrative of Independent strong black girl, no new friends and no woman drama, has become so prevalent in our lives, many women are missing out on the power of authentic sisterhood. Over the last 13 years, I’ve lived in three different countries, the experiences I’ve had would never have been so beautiful if I did not have close female friends to vent with, encourage me, push me, hold me accountable when I needed to be.
Last year February, my family and I went to the beach on a glorious sun shining day. Aunt flow was scheduled to visit soon, but I was sure I had time. Monokini Clad, a good time we were about to have, aunt flow didn’t want to miss out though and showed right up. Long story short, at 32 years old I had never worn a tampon before, save and except trying on one I saw in my aunts draw when I was 11. The following day I relayed the story to one of my friends who laughed me to scorn-she simply couldn’t believe I’d never use them, come over she said, I will show you, and that she did. She patiently explained the best brands to use and everything else I need to know, in addition to giving me a real live demonstration. To this day, I do not know how I made it so far without them. As TMI as this story is, the point really is, our girlfriends add to the quality of our lives.
There have been so many times, I needed to just talk with someone about being a mom, marriage, finances a situation at work, sex, body image and needed an honest female perspective and not the one from your mom- no offence mommy. The advice and encouragement I’ve received from my sister friends is comparable to none. There is no problem, no heart break, no crisis that cannot be solved when talking to my close-knit community.
It was not always this way, in my late teens and early to mid-twenties, I vaguely understood the power which laid in sisterhood. As women, we sometimes hold our female counterparts to much higher standards than we do for men. We’re often quick to cut someone off for an err in judgment or overstepping a boundary. I and I know if you’re being honest lots of you are guilty of this. Thank God for maturity, when you know better you do better. Sisterhoods just like a romantic relationship will go through ebbs and flows. There will be moments when something was said and done that hurt your feelings. A lapse of judgement does not mean the sisterhood is not authentic. Actually, what I have learned is communicating when something made me feel hurt actually deepens friendships and teaches my friends how to show up for me better. Through hard lessons and introspection, I’ve had to give grace when my feelings are bruised, because not long after would I require the same grace.
If this pandemic has taught us one thing, it must be the power of community, socializing and the ability to connect with other beings.
There is a popular Caribbean saying, I use a lot within my sister-friend circle,
‘good friend better than pocket money’, whoever penned this quote must have known and felt the incredible power of a genuine and honest friend. Life’s not perfect neither are we, but we need each other to live fulfilled, long and healthy lives. Find your tribe, build your community, genuinely care for your friends and their well-being, forgive often. Let us build and grow communities, so that Roseto is the norm and not an outlier.