So. A few weeks ago, I was watching an episode of Red Table Talk and a term was brought up that sort of blew my mind. They were discussing the dynamics of female relationships, be it coworkers, family, or friends. One of the guests brought to the table the term "performative sisterhood". It instantly raised an eyebrow for me because, well, it's a very familiar concept for me. For formality's sake, she essentially defined it as when the "mean girls" become grown women who pretend to be about sisterhood, but are still those same mean girls on the inside. You know who I mean. Those women who only show up (literally and figuratively) to say they showed up, but don't actually care to engage or really even care about you. Whew! I had to pause the video for a second.
Why, you might ask, would that one thing make me take pause?! Well, because I, for so long, have struggled with being on the receiving end of performative sisterhood...and it was so very draining. I spent so many years tolerating toxic patterns from other girls and women in my life just so that I would have a connection. It honestly had as much of a negative impact on my spirit as a toxic intimate partner relationship. But, for some reason, I felt the need to continue to be loyal to and pour energy into those toxic connections. I felt like I needed that validation that I belonged to something bigger than me or that I was accepted in the circle. Then, almost overnight, I had an epiphany....I do not have to perform or be a part of someone else's performance to have a connection!
You see, I have always struggled with a spirit of rejection (more about that later). I openly admit it now because I have learned to call a thing a thing in order to grow past it. From a little girl on up, I constantly feared being rejected or left out or not being good enough. So, I would find my way into those circles, shrink myself as to not offend or outshine those around me, and stay in my little corner of the circle until I was summoned for. I even dealt with this in circles that I paid a pretty penny (literally a monetary fee) to be associated with. But, as we all well know, circles don't have corners. So, in reality, I was often on the outside always trying to find my way back in.
Then, one day, I'd just flat out had enough. I was tired, y'all. I was tired of being taken advantage of. I was tired of being made to feel small and making myself small just to feel like I had a connection with other women. I don't say any of this to make a whoa is me moment. I am no one's victim. I say this because I want us, as women, to know that just like there are millions of men in this world to choose from, there are even more women that we can make genuine, heartfelt bonds with.
I decided that I didn't want to be invisible anymore and started cutting the ties to the connections that I felt no longer or never did serve me. It was a painful, yet necessary process. You know what I found? I found spaces and women who I don't have to pretend with. I found women who sew into me with their words and their actions and their love. I found connections where I can cry until I laugh and laugh until I cry. I found reciprocated energy. I found women who refuse to let me shrink myself, but instead say to me "here, sis, stand on my shoulders because you need to be seen".
Most importantly, I found a deeper connection with me and finally began to come into myself! Much like a toxic intimate relationship, performative sisterhood has a way of making us lose sight of how amazing we are and of how much we have to offer this world. It takes away the ability to learn oneself and to grow and blossom. It blocks us from even attempting to make new connections because our plate is already so full with trying to keep the connections that we have been shrinking ourselves for.
When I decided to make myself available for new connections, I found kindred spirits in the most unlikely spaces. I have become vulnerable in ways that I never have before. I have had 3 hour conversations over tea about nothing and everything. I have been pushed out of my comfort zone because the dreams I share are seen as too valuable to keep to myself. I have been challenged on my ways of thinking and speaking about myself. I have been the shoulder to cry on and had that energy reciprocated. I have learned that I can be fully accepted for all that I am and all that I am not...and it is one of the most freeing feelings of my adult life.
For everything there is a season. I am a firm believer that no one comes into our lives without a purpose. But, one thing we do not and should not ever do, is try to force those connections to remain...especially at the expense of our own growth and happiness. Let's not perform, sis. Let's learn to take what we need from a connection and press on. There are so many souls out there that we can make a genuine connection with...be it a reason, a season, or a lifetime. But, we have to free up the space to allow them in. True sisterhood is out there....we just have to be available to it.
Light and love....