“You know, taken out of context I must seem so strange” – Ani DiFranco
On Saturday, I had a meeting with my Tribe of Women. We try to meet regularly but our lives are busy like most everybody. These meetings usually begin with a lot of hugs followed by “You’re awesome” and “Wait! You’re awesome” and “Tell me about the awesome things you’re doing.” It was this tribe of women that taught how essential it is that women support other women.
The head of the tribe is my grandmother. She is my Shero. She is usually accompanied by my Aunt, her daughter (another Shero), and when we meet a unique type of magic happens. We can talk for hours (and hours) about social issues, our beliefs, and personal challenges. Time escapes me. To the onlooker, one would assume they were witnessing three women sharing a meal but for me the battery of my soul is being recharged. I can grow weary of the darkness and sadness in the world (and in my own head) and these meetings fill my soul with hope and love.
It is during these these conferences, I feel like I make sense. I want to point to them and scream to the people around us “Come look! I make sense in this context.” They know my entire history so there is no need to explain myself. We share values so there is no need to tiptoe around certain topics. It’s the easiest place to prop up my feet, speak honestly, and not have to worry if I’m being judged. Those are precious moments.
I fiercely believe that women need a tribe to build them up and tell them that they can chase the moon. During one of our visits, I said to my grandmother that I got along better with men and she kindly reminded me of the importance of female relationships. I have a number of secure connections with men but she was right in that I need my tribe of women. When I ask another woman some variation of “Do I make sense?” and it is met with “Yes, absolutely” that is a certain kind of validation.
I know some people argue that we could do away with gender. I think that’s a different post for a different day. I will say that gender is certainly not categorical. I do not fit into a general box labeled “woman.” These women are my tribe because they understand the kind of person I am and they are similar people.
This is less about family and more about shared values. A person can be related to me but not share my values. Thus, they will not be able to validate my way of being in the world.
A few summers ago, I was struggling with a severe bout of anxiety and a personal challenge. I called on my usual support system and they were growing weary with my worried thoughts. It was time to call in the big guns. I contacted my grandmother and my aunt and they picked me up in my grandmother’s HHR like it was the Bat-mobile. It was the Fourth of July and we needed a meeting ground that served food. We located and open burger joint and the meeting commenced. My worries and anxieties were met with validation, love, and compassion. They could sense that I was vibrating with anxiety and they just sat with me and reassured me that it would work out. Like I said, these meetings are magical.
And it did work out. I left that meeting with the confidence to address the personal challenge. I knew that they believed me and they believed that how I felt mattered. This was what my soul needed to face this challenge. I am exceptionally fortunate to be part of this tribe. It is where seeds are sown and my courage is grown.
“Abandon the cultural myth that all female friendships must be bitchy, toxic, or competitive. This myth is like heels and purses — pretty but designed to SLOW women down.” -Roxane Gay