I follow the blog Roots of She, and today they featured a post by Kate Swoboda, whom I also happen to follow and who posted another equally inspiring post earlier in the week. Kate’s post today is a Call to the Women of the World and asks us about our relationships with each other. It is interesting to me because I’m reading a lot about this topic in a lot of different places right now, even though this particular post is over two years old. I know that I am feeling this particular angst. Like we are all in competition with each other.
I think I am particularly sensitive because of my experience at my last place of employment – where the betrayal and back-biting contributed in large parts to my no longer being there. I will say again that I was not blameless. I had a hand in it. But I believed in an atmosphere of cooperation and collegiality rather than competition rather than one-up-womanship.
I know that I’m guilty of not being as open and supportive with the women around me as I could be. I’d like to change that.
Kate Swoboda asks us to answer these three questions about how to change our relationships with women:
- What is it that you most desire in your connections with other women?
- I want openness and honesty in my connections with other women. I do not want to have to be guarded, wondering what it is that they want from me or what angle might be working. I want to be able to fully be myself in all of my imperfect glory, accepted for who and what I am. In my oddities, my insecurities, my fears, my expertise, and my abilities. Acceptance. A lack of judgement. And because I know that I am guilty of not extending acceptance and openness to the women in my life – of judging them for not making the choices that I would.
- If you knew it were possible to create the kinds of relationships between and among women that you really want to see in the world, what qualities would those relationships have?
- I think true connection. Deep, strong, genuine connection. I believe that so many of us operate on a superficial level because we are too afraid of the judgement or the repercussions or the damage from trusting those that we shouldn’t. We smile and nod and offer pleasantries but don’t move much beyond those, don’t call each other out on our shit when we need to because it doesn’t really matter anyway – these women are merely passing through our lives and aren’t truly making an impact or a deep connection. We can let them slide away because they didn’t mean anything in the first place. I want relationships with other women that are filled with caring and concern and loving accountability.
- What’s the most tender, vulnerable thing you could ask for?
- My answer is the same as Kate’s: Acceptance…for who I am, for who I am not, for my hopes and dreams and fears and strengths and past and present. For all the things that make me who I am, for all the things that I am deeply afraid to reveal to anyone save my oldest and dearest friends and Sweet Husband, I’d like to ask for acceptance. To tell my story and not have it be rejected because it is to much. When I work with student writers, I am always reminding myself that it isn’t just their words on the page, it is themselves, and that is what makes it so incredibly difficult to even get started. The same is true with making relationships with other people, particularly other women. We are putting ourselves out there and we are too often incredibly harsh critics. It is a raw, rending process and that could be made so much easier.
This is something that I think I’m going to spend a little more time thinking about. These are some initial thoughts. When I’ve had a little time and a little rest and aren’t quite so rough for other reasons, I’d like to revisit these questions.
How might you go about answering these questions? How are your relationships with other women? And how would you like them to be?