It was effortless to smile today, with knees folded neatly beneath me, as I sat on the floor and counted sisters like holographic playing cards.
A Very Notable Collection of Them.
Just when I believe that the world has taken a break from marveling me with her magic tricks, she pulls a white, silk cloth from within my ear. Leaving me breathless, leaving me awe-inspired.
To tell you what happened yesterday is to tell you the story of a 22-year-old girl who woke up before the sun even stirred from its sleep cycle, put on a pair of black pumps and a reliable yellow sweater, and left her apartment for the day. That same girl came home completely changed with the addition of a Dozen New Sisters bulging out from her over-sized leather bag.
She called me sister and I instantly felt as if I were standing beside her, her arm swooping over my shoulder and pulling me in.
An unexpected thread laced throughout the room of over 300 women, curling us into a Sisterhood we never anticipated to find that morning when we bought our Starbucks.
Ms. Leymah Gbowee, the woman responsible for organizing the peace movement that brought the end to the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003, was our closing speaker at the Girls Stand Up! Orientation Day yesterday. Months of tireless work, a slew of meetings at the UNICEF cafe, and a fine mix of email delegation between myself and several women, brought us to a packed venue where over 250 girls equipped themselves in armors of advocacy and womens' issues in preparation for CSW 55.
That's right, these next two weeks are my Shark Week. The 55th Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations is a solid two weeks dedicated to gender equality and the advancement of women. Say it with me now, Girl. Power. A forum amidst the Concrete Jungle to formulate Concrete Policies to Promote Women Worldwide. Can you see the grin stretching across my face just yet?
But while policies can grow long and technical, Ms. Gbowee brought it down to a level where we could all find sitting space. A call for women to be sisters. To be fierce collaborators instead of fierce competitors.
And so when she called me by "sister" I took up the title instantly.
Leyman is one of those people within this world that when she uses a word, she uses it. She feels it. She means it. And you feel it too. She wraps you up fully in it. Wraps you so tight that you wish she would just write the word down so you could take up living space in one of the letters, paying rent to the S or turning the T into a one-bedroom apartment.
I have never had a sister in my life, not by the dictionary definition that insists on telling me that I need some sort of matching DNA to hold the hand of another Beautiful Girl and be fully be related. But Webster & Oxford can never argue with me over the secrets I have shared and the stories I have heard from women all over that I now call Sister.
My life is Etched by many sisters.
Sketched & Etched By Many Sisters.
And life is far more interesting when the prospect of sisters, of fierce collaborators, are always around the corner. When we Link instead of Compare. When we Talk instead of Gossip. When we stop looking for what we can possibly aspire to beat in one another. You are not prettier than I. I am not smarter than you. She is not nicer than me. We are not better than her. These are the kinds of statements that tug at my heart, infusing me with hope that one day we will muster the courage to say these things to one another.
Because we don't say these things often enough.
And so I punctuate the ending of this post with a little dose of Sisterhood 101, inspired by Ms. Gbowee, my Newfound Sister:
Let's put away the Mean, Unkind Words. The Stunning Slander. Let's tuck away the Comparing of our Thighs and our Hips. Let's put down the Gossip and throw out the Animosity. Let's stop battling for First Place and just help others find a place: to live, to work, to learn, without fear of persecution. Let's drop the drama off at daycare. Let's quit the popularity climb. Let's forget how to back stab, how to make nasty comments, how to hurt one another's feelings. It never made us prettier, it never really worked. Let's forget that we were once "no longer friends" and let's admire one another. Admire her. Admire Each Other.
Let's sit down. Grab coffee. Put aside Jealousy. Make a Space for Sisterhood. Let's talk about fears that we all have but never admit. Let's allow Loneliness, Unhappiness, Excitement & Anticipation sit down at the table beside us.
Let's plan. Let's collaborate. Let's think out loud to one another. Let's be active. Real. Crazy. Daring. Proud. Loud. Sisters.
And let's see what happens when we start these things. When we start a new ball rolling and take on a new attitude. Let's see the change as it comes. Let's see that progress as it is made, when we stop looking to beat one another and just begin being there for one another.
I tend to believe it makes life a lot simpler. And if you are looking for a real sell: I hear it prevents early wrinkles and nasty frown marks.