A few weeks ago, my four-year-old daughter, Abigail, was invited to a birthday party for one of her best friends. While shopping for a birthday gift, we came across a princess dress that looked similar to a dress Abigail has, only this one was fashioned to be a mini version of Elsa’s dress from Disney’s Frozen. Upon seeing this dress, Abigail gasped and insisted that this was the perfect gift for her friend. For days leading up to the party, all Abigail could talk about was how excited she was to give this gift to her friend, how much she knew her friend would love it, and how beautiful she was going to look in it. When the day of the party of came, Abigail watched her friend opening her gift and exploded with joy. She was just as excited as if the gift were her own.
This is how female friendship begins. An excitement to know each other, to see each other happy, to have fun together and to celebrate the other’s joy as if it were our own. I have memories of my early school years of the excitement of discovering new friends. We would pass each other notes and have sleepovers at each other’s houses. But somewhere and somehow along the way, through high school, college, and career, female friendships change. Suddenly, we aren’t always as excited to celebrate each other, sometimes when we enter romantic relationships we tend to neglect our female friends, we grow apart, we experience jealousy towards each other. This happens not only with our female friends but our actual sisters as well. At some point, we begin to see each other as competition.
What usually happens as a result of this rift is women begin seeking comfort and support from men. Though every woman should feel supported and respected by the men in her life, the lack of female support can be detrimental. I received an email not too long ago from a new student I had worked with. In the email she expresses just how unfortunate a lack of female friendship can be. She is beautiful inside and out, successful, and has been married for ten years. On the outside she may seem like she has it all but in reality, she is in an unfulfilling relationship and has no real support. After our meeting, she expressed to me how grateful she was and how she had no idea how much she missed female energy in her life. That she was surprised by how supported and strong she felt even after our brief session. This is the power of sisterhood.
Sisterhood is defined as the solidarity of women based on shared conditions, experiences, and concerns. It is one the strongest bonds we can experience, one that transcends and transforms us. It exists outside of race, religion, and culture and the connection found in these relationships can be incredibly healing and powerful.
Based on the definition alone, it seems that opportunities for sisterhood could be everywhere. So why is so hard to find and keep supportive, lasting friendships with women? The short answer is we’ve become too focused on what the other has, and how that makes us feel small in comparison, instead of all of the things we have in common. We are all just trying to figure it out and become the best versions of ourselves
“We cannot be a friend only on the surface. Opening our hearts to others allows us to read and sense others, as well as to be happy with what we have and be happy for what others have.” – Rav Berg
How many times have you felt insecure around a woman who you perceive as having more than you? Have you ever found yourself judging another woman because she is attractive/ confident/ single/ married? If so, that’s okay. This is where we can flip the narrative. We’ve all had instances of being intimidated by other women but at the root of that feeling is a belief that we are less than. If we are able to pinpoint our insecurities and see them as opportunities to work on ourselves, we can begin to see our female friendships as places of encouragement instead of opposition.
We can all think of a strong woman who has had a far-reaching supportive effect on our lives. Perhaps you had a grandmother or favorite aunt who offered endless encouragement and who wouldn’t want to create more of that in their life and be that role model and inspiration for another? Kabbalah teaches that what we wish to receive we must first give. So reach out, support your female friends, offer the encouragement that you wish to feel as well and it will return to you.
Kabbalists teach that there is no separation between people on a spiritual level. The support you give to yourself is the support that you give to another. The love you give to yourself allows you to love others more. As we celebrate the things we love and admire about ourselves, we create a space to do so for others. As we build this consciousness, we become able to reach out and encourage other women in the same way. We can be as happy for our friends through their accomplishments and successes as we are for our own. Because, in essence, there is no difference.
THOUGHT IN ACTION
Do you feel you need more female support in your life? Are there ways you can be more supportive of other women around you?