Self-Care and Sisterhood
One of the most quintessential and fulfilling pieces of Black womanhood is the privilege of experiencing Black Sisterhood, or the close sisterly bonds uniquely held between Black women. Black sisterhood can be defined by blood relation, or the close friendships between those of us who just seem to naturally mesh well with one another, oftentimes through shared experiences and/or shared history. Many of us were recently reminded of just how important these friendships are to us by the box-office hit Girls’ Trip (2017) starring Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Queen Latifah, and breakout star Tiffany Haddish.
Just like the Flossy Posse, some of my fondest moments have been the memories I’ve made with my sister-friends; they have given me strength when I was weak, support when I pursued something new, and encouragement in the times that I was ready to give up. In return, I have tried my best to do the same.
While Black sisterhood is an amazing thing, there can be a dark side to these friendships that is seldom discussed: the power that insecurity can play in corrupting and dismantling even the best bonds between Black women. I’m not exempt from this; in fact, as much as I love, cherish, and value close friendships among women of color, I haven’t always the best at maintaining some of my own.
One thing that I’ve learned through my own mistakes, is that insecurity with oneself can quickly effect how you interact with other people, shaking even the strongest friendships if you let it. Why? It has been my experience that struggling with personal insecurities can influence you to make incorrect assumptions about how other people feel about you, complicating your ability to connect. I went through this most vividly during the end of my college career (insert shameless “Collegiate/post-graduate depression is real” PSA).
My senior year was a weird time for me. I was dealing with A LOT, silently. I was stressed about trying to figure out my next move after graduation; tired of school; feeling alone; feeling unmotivated; and questioning my own potential like never before. Because my relationship with myself was suffering, so did my relationships with other people. I began to question some of my friendships—including those with my Black female friends—that I’d never questioned before, and even pulled away from some of them. Instead of talking to them constructively, being honest about how I was feeling, or seeking the help that I probably needed at that time, I made assumptions about their actions, jumped to conclusions, and did some dumb things as a result.
My actions ended up costing me one of the friendships that meant the most. We’re still cordial, but things are certainly not like they once were. I’m in a better place now, but I admit that knowing my actions hurt one of my closest sister friends still bothers me. And while I miss the quality of friendship that we once had, I completely acknowledge that the way things ended up is mostly my own fault. A huge part of life is learning how to own up to your own mess, and finding the lesson in your mistakes. Here’s a lesson from me to you, Queens:
Our ability to connect with our sisters—biological or chosen—suffers when we suffer. Being a Black woman in America is hard on so many levels, and even though we all have individual strength and resilience, the journey is so much better when you’re not going at it alone. Yes, we are magical and yes, we are superwomen, but we have to do a better job of taking care of ourselves in order to help take care of each other. Black sisterhood is as wonderful as it is necessary for our survival in a world that often works against us; when you gain trustworthy, empowering women in your circle, it is important to do what you can to keep them there (and vice versa). This includes making self-care a priority, and being wise enough to admit if/when a lack of it impacts how you act with others.
Yes, friendships evolve as we do, and not all friendships are meant to last a lifetime. Still, we all need at least a few good sisters that we can count on. I’ve learned that if insecurity, or any other personal baggage, starts interfering with how you act with your Flossy Posse, then it might be time for some self-examination and self-care. Further, if you notice that one of your sister friends is acting different—ESPECIALLY if your “strong friend” starts acting different—check on her to see what’s up. Trust me, even “the strong friend” goes through things and needs extra support sometimes. At the end of the day, having each others’ backs also includes having your own. Take a little time to check on yourself and your sisters. We all we got.
P.S…. All of this applies to Black brotherhood and co-ed friendships, too. Switch the pronouns and act accordingly.