By Andrea Chacos
Being a transplant from halfway across the country has many advantages. And taking the leap to a new frontier has drawbacks, too.
You can shed your youth. Shed the memory of your heinous middle-school perm. Shed the persona you tested out with your high school boyfriend. Shed the drama with complicated friends or difficult family. Coming into your own without baggage is rewarding because you help define the terms in your new relationships.
But developing a web in a new community takes stamina. Without the support system that comes naturally by family members living in proximity to one another, you have to actively work on each and every relationship. Cultivating a network of friendships takes time. Developing trust takes effort. And building a sisterhood to stand the test of time takes grit.
So growing up in a really small family without sisters or female relatives close in age offered me a non-existent baseline as how to be a female friend. Sure, I had my team sports growing up and I had a couple of great girlfriends guiding me along the way. But I didn’t have a sorority or extended family that taught me about secret oaths or unwritten rules and the eternal bond over shared experiences.
So finding my sisterhood has come over time. And sisterhood has come from the most unexpected people bonding over the most unexpected situations. For example, right after I moved here twenty years ago, I joined a recreational soccer team just to connect with other women playing a sport I knew well. We bonded over beer, boys and in the loneliness from being a new person in town without many connections.
Then came the shared experiences over work. Being a public school teacher was plagued with more politics and drama than I wanted to endure in a lifetime. And I found comfort and trust in women over shared political ideology. Work stress can offer a bond unshakeable after years apart.
My sisterhood has also come from living in a neighborhood filled with young moms and older, wise women. There’s a bond that develops over time when you live next door to those that see you in your pajamas taking out the trash, hear you yelling at your kids, overhear the arguments with your spouse and take you in when you need a glass of wine.
The sisterhood that is the easiest to foster is the one where we get together for no significant purpose at all. Going to a movie, going to a concert, going on a road trip or just finding our way to one another feeds the soul, too. It’s the laughter or the tears or the silence that seems to nourish and rejuvenate me.
But recently, the most powerful form of sisterhood I’ve been part of has transformed me in ways I never knew could be possible. I’ve been fortunate to be part of a larger circle of women that seem to have a passion and self-awareness that I am enamored by daily. I’m on the fringe of this group of women but when invited to something, I jump so fast and say yes so loudly, that I immediately advertise my overzealous excitement.
So I tapped into the energy of these women and found a side of me unused, underdeveloped and unloved. I attribute my awakening to the unspoken bond that women must naturally have for one another when brought together without judgment. I found these women using their collective confidence, empathy and power to try and build up the other women around them. And before long, we became a circle of energy that offered support, love and a safe space to just be real. And this group wants to include more women. I watch as they find a way to bring people together using their collective power and wisdom, not by tearing women apart. How refreshing.
I now crave sisterhood wherever I can get it. My religion offers sisterhood in an existential way. The political climate draws out women with whom I want to share my philosophical ideals. My neighborhood is both comforting and inescapable, letting me feel like I have extended family nearby. The girlfriends that I camp with, ski with and hike with allow me to commune with nature. The sisters I cry with see my soul and I trust them with my innermost secrets. The women that I know through work see when stress gets the better of me. And we work together to be better to one another.
So living far from my mom, my childhood best friend and those that had no choice but to take me in has taught me to seek out my sisterhood of women in many ways. I’ve always been a fan of this quote by motivational speaker and self-help guru, Jim Rohn, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” And although I believe the law of averages to be true, I have to include myself in the mix and the gaggle of women I consider part of my ever-expanding Sisterhood.
Ande is a mountain mom living in Carbondale, Colorado. She strives for passion and flair as she balances work, family and her other responsibilities. When things start slipping through the cracks, or when life throws a curveball, you can be sure that she looks for the absurd in the situation and finds a way to repeat her mantra, “Just enjoy the ride.”