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Things I Learned From Sisterhood

6 months ago by

Tasnim is a young woman who immediately strikes you with her wisdom that takes others a lifetime to achieve. Her wisdom is inherent, but also learned, from the sisters she chooses to surround herself with. Below are a few choice lessons she’s learned from these sisters and I think everyone could learn something from Tasnim.

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My mother and my grandmother had very different childhoods: born in a small village in Bangladesh, my grandmother ran free and climbed trees with her two other brothers; my mother grew up in small spaces in big cities with eight other siblings. What they both had in common was the care and compassion they reserved for their sisters, not those born of family bonds, but their chosen sisters, the women they could be their truest selves with. This is how I first learned of sisterhood.

Sisterhood transcends familial ties. It can be between two women or twenty. It is a reconciling and acceptance of differences, a ground for vulnerability and debate, empowering and equal parts humbling, a space of unconditional love and learning. Here are a few things I’ve learned.

1. The value of safe spaces.
Growing up, the dining room symbolized a space of love and community. My mother would have over her sisters and best friends, and around the dining table, over pakoras and cups of tea, they would laugh, cry, argue and heal, dance, sing and debate. In this space of nurture, they were free to express themselves in whatever way they chose, without any restraint, and unafraid of judgement. Their sense of freedom with one another always reminds me to cultivate a space of acceptance for my own friends.

2. The healing power of conversation
When my grandmother passed away, her best friends and sisters gathered to share their stories of their sisterhood with my grandmother. The first time they’d been to a beach in the 1950s with her, plunging into the water in their saris; my grandmother, well into her seventies, dancing and singing at a gathering of sisters (my family couldn’t begin to imagine her dancing!). They would call one another late at night just to talk about things weighing on them, and rush to be by their side whenever they could. Their conversations would not only soothe them in times of need, but the retelling of their stories and allowing us into their sisterhood helped my family and I heal from our own grief.

3. We can agree, and we can disagree.
My sisters have taught me that not only are we entitled to our own opinions, but that we can respectfully express them to one another without damaging our relationship. Sisterhood is not about sameness, but rather the coming together of different identities in an unyielding bond of acceptance.

4. Gossip is fruitless.
Whenever I’m in the company of my dear friend Hawa and I find myself wanting to revel in gossip, she always manages to veer us away from it, and instead forges a conversation about what we can do to strengthen our communities and bring about change for good. Her grace and the dignity she upholds has taught me that there is no value in gossip, and it functions only as a projection of our own insecurities.

5. Love unconditionally.
From my best friend, Daniela, I have learned the boundlessness of love in sisterhood. Through everything – loving the wrong boys, compulsively making wrong choices and hurting myself, losing my beloved grandparents within six months of each other, wearing much too much eyeliner in my early twenties, nagging her constantly to critique and edit my writing – she has been by my side. She has held me while I cried, laughed with me and put me in my place, pushed me when I needed it the most, and taught me, and continues to teach me, how to love unconditionally every single day.

6. Empower women, don’t diminish them.
Since my first experiences of female friendship, I have, from time to time, said or done something cruel to reduce other women, and have also known what it feels like to be diminished by another woman. Cruelty is momentarily remedial of course, but leaves an everlasting bad taste in the month. In the way that gossip is fruitless, there is also no value in lessening women. Through the generosity of sisterhood, I’ve learned that there is nothing stronger and more limitless than an empowered woman.

7. Be grateful.
Finding women who are kind and trusting, women who will anger us and push us to meet the limitlessness of our potential is sacred. Remember that for as much as you are there for them, they are here of you. Be grateful for this special bond.

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You also might also remember Tasnim from this or this. We clearly have a girl crush on her, and rightfully so.

16 comments

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  • I love this!!

  • Great subject… I would add: respect the periods of absence, without feeling offended, abandoned. I mean, when the ‘sister’ got madly in love, she might not have time for you and your stories, mesmerized by the prince… let it go, she will come back after the madness… and definitely during each crisis! Love has priority (at first), friendship is a supportive factor!
    And it is a fact, that juicy gossips will pop up, the problem being that they tend to lead to criticism, useless and insensitive talk, just showing ones own weakness, indeed!
    Definitely, sisterhood is a privilege to cherish when we have it!

  • C’est fabuleux et ça fait écho pour moi. Deux ou trois fois par an, nous organisons une réunion de femmes chez l’une ou chez l’autre et tout le monde s’arrange pour être présente même s’il faut venir de l’étranger. Dans cet espace qui n’est rien qu’à nous, on mange, on boit, on rit, on pleure et on parle de TOUT. On se porte un regard bienveillant quoi qu’on dise, quoi qu’il arrive…Souvent l’une de nous vit une grande épreuve de vie et chacune est là pour l’épauler à sa manière. Nos rencontres nous apprennent la tolérance. Au fil des années d’amitié, nos regards ont changé sur la vie, car rien n’est simple quand la maladie ou la mort frappent, quand les ruptures amoureuses ou les coup de foudres bouleversent tout, quand les difficultés professionnelles persistent. Au sein de ce petit groupe de 5 femmes, personne ne juge qui que ce soit bien que nous soyons toutes très différentes et de pays différents et cet espace de liberté est sacré pour nous toutes.

  • J’ai tellement aimé le quatrième point que je trouve tellement vrai ! Un texte et un article vraiment inspirant par ces pensées retranscrites !

  • So lovely and wise! <3 Thank you for this! :)

  • Veronica – such a thoughtful piece. Thanks for sharing. Also love other posts from you, great style.

  • Gail Owen-Smith February, 11 2018, 6:24 / Reply

    I could not agree more. Thank you for passing this on, marilyn rose.

  • Tatiana François Motta February, 12 2018, 11:06 / Reply

    Dear Veronica, Garance and Team, I liked so much this post that I decided to translate it to Portuguese (I’m Brazilian) to show to my friends (we have a group of girls that meet once a month). In case it may be useful to inspire other women who don’t read French or English, I’m sharing it with you:

    COISAS QUE APRENDI COM A SORORIDADE

    Tasnim é uma jovem mulher que logo nos impressiona por sua sabedoria. Essa sabedoria é em parte inata, mas também foi aprendida das irmãs que a vida lhe trouxe. Abaixo, algumas lições que ela aprendeu, e que acho que todas podemos aprender com ela.
    __________________
    “Minha mãe e avó tiveram infâncias muito diferentes: nascida em um pequeno vilarejo em Bangladesh, minha avó corria livre e subia em árvores com seus dois irmãos; minha mãe cresceu em pequenos espaços de grandes cidades com seus oito irmãos. O que as duas tiveram em comum foi o cuidado e compaixão que reservavam para suas irmãs, não apenas aquelas com quem tinham laços familiares, mas também com as suas irmãs escolhidas, as mulheres com quem elas podiam ser elas mesmas, verdadeiras. Foi assim que eu o que era sororidade (a irmandade entre mulheres).
    Sororidade transcende os laços familiares. Pode existir entre duas mulheres, ou vinte. É a compreensão e aceitação das diferenças, um espaço para vulnerabilidade e debate, empoderamento e humildade, um espaço para o amor incondicional e o aprendizado. Aqui estão algumas coisas que aprendi.
    1. O valor dos espaços seguros.
    Enquanto crescia, a sala de jantar simbolizava um espaço de amor e comunhão. Em volta da mesa de jantar, minha mãe recebia suas irmãs e melhores amigas, entre a comida e o chá, elas riam, choravam, discutiam e se curavam, dançavam, cantavam e debatiam. Nesse espaço elas eram livres para expressar-se da maneira que quisessem, sem restrições, e sem medo de julgamentos. A sua sensação de liberdade umas com as outras sempre me lembra da importância de cultivar um espaço de aceitação para as minhas próprias amigas.
    2. O poder de cura da conversa
    Quando minha avó faleceu, suas melhores amigas e irmãs reuniram-se para compartilhar suas histórias da convivência juntas. A primeira vez que foram à praia juntas, as danças e canções em seus encontros, as vezes em que se telefonavam tarde da noite para desabafar, a liberdade com que podiam encontrar-se. Suas conversas não apenas aliviaram suas dores e problemas, mas reconta-las e nos permitir ouvi-las ajudou a mim e minha família a superar o nosso próprio sofrimento pela perda de minha avó.
    3. Podemos concordar e podemos discordar
    Minhas irmãs me ensinaram que não só temos direito às nossas opiniões, mas também podemos expressa-las respeitosamente umas às outras sem prejudicar nossa amizade. Sororidade não é sobre pensarmos igual, mas sobre a união de várias identidades em um vínculo de aceitação.
    4. Fofoca é perda de tempo.
    Sempre que estou na companhia de minha querida amiga Hawa e estou prestes a entrar em fofocas e maledicências, ela dá um jeito de desviar o assunto, e em lugar disso, iniciar uma conversa sobre o que nós podemos fazer para fortalecer nossos grupos e fazer mudanças definitivas. Sua dignidade me ensinou que não há nenhum valor em fofocas, e que elas só servem como uma projeção das nossas próprias inseguranças.
    5. Ame incondicionalmente.
    De minha melhor amiga Daniela, eu aprendi o desprendimento do amor entre amigas. Em todos os momentos – quando amei os homens errados, tomei as decisões equivocadas e me machuquei, na perda de meus amados avós, quando usava excesso de maquiagem na adolescência, quando a incomodei para ler e corrigir o que eu escrevia – ela sempre esteve ao meu lado. Ela me abraçou enquanto eu chorava, riu comigo, me incentivou quando eu mais precisava, e me ensinou, e continua me ensinando, como amar incondicionalmente todos os dias.
    6. Empodere as mulheres, não as diminua.
    Desde a minha primeira experiência de amizade feminina, de tempos em tempos eu disse ou fiz algo cruel para diminuir outras mulheres, e também soube como é sentir-se sendo diminuída por outra mulher. A crueldade pode ser um remédio momentâneo, mas deixa um gosto ruim para sempre. Da mesma forma que a fofoca é inútil, não há vantagem em diminuir outras mulheres. Através da generosidade da sororidade eu aprendi que não há nada mais forte e sem limites do que uma mulher empoderada.
    7. Seja grata.
    Encontrar mulheres gentis e confiáveis, mulheres que nos enfurecem e nos forçam a atingir nosso potencial ilimitado é algo sagrado. Lembre-se de que assim como você as apoia, elas apoiam você. Seja grata por essa ligação especial.”

  • Hi Tatiana! Wow, wow, wow. This made my Monday morning. I am so happy Tasnim’s words resonated with so many. And if we ever need a Portuguese translator, now I know who to go to :) big hug. xx V

  • This was so nice to read. Simply; thank you.

  • Jorge Alexandre Teixeira February, 13 2018, 2:42 / Reply

    *_*

  • C’est tellement tellement vrai et beau))

  • Thank you for this! :))

  • Shireen Bora February, 15 2018, 11:50 / Reply

    Yesssss, more of this!!!
    Shireen Bora

  • Can’t go thru life without the sisterhood -it is a blessing !

  • Great to read, very well put. I feel so many of us know these lessons but sometimes they get lost in our day to day. Thank you for the beautiful reminder, Veronica and Tasnim!

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