by Ashley Bruni
Community is one of the most important parts of being human, yet it isn't uncommon these days to be disconnected from one another in a profound way. The habitual and superficial ways in which many of us have learned to interact can’t satisfy like the true tribal bonds that are available to us if we open our hearts and seek them out. My path to finding genuine sisterhood and friendship has been a constant learning experience, and something I have learned the importance of prioritizing. I will share a bit of my story and thoughts here in hopes of inspiring you to open to the magic of inviting others into the deep parts of your heart to become family.
Growing up in a small town in the Texas Hill Country, I didn’t have a large group of friends to choose from and I struggled with finding girls who understood me. Throughout middle school and high school I always had best friends - “a tier, not a person” says the great Mindy Kaling - but looking back, I was only sharing a select part of myself to ensure that I was liked and accepted. This led to confusion about who I really was and issues with low self-esteem. Luckily, this early form of sisterhood would only grow as I dropped the fear of showing up as my real self and being open to truly intimate friendships. I learned to seek out the magic in others and throughout my 20s I constantly challenged myself to stay open and connect with those who had a shared desire for baring their souls and exploring the world together.
As adults it can be scary to reach out to create or join a community but, as we learn more about who we are and begin to tackle the larger challenges in our lives it becomes more valuable than ever to connect and empathize. Compromise is tough (especially for a tenacious Taurine like myself!) but if you approach others with an open heart and mind, believing we are stronger together than apart, the benefits are tenfold. When women come together consciously and authentically, we can alchemize our most trying emotions and help each other to unlock our potential. “Finding the others” can be the most rewarding experience of your life if you dedicate yourself to the search and drop the fear of rejection.
When I first moved to New York nearly 10 years ago I was missing the bonds that I’d created in my college sorority and seeking something much more substantial. In my first years working in advertising I got along fine with my colleagues and had a few close friends from Texas to lean on, but no tribe of “breakfast, lunch & dinner” besties to sweeten my life. Oh you know the ones, friends who you can start the morning with and seamlessly hang out until you realize a sleepover is the only reasonable conclusion to the day. My not-yet-husband could see the suffering this lack of a thriving community was causing and challenged me to follow those who inspired me. We were both drawn to gatherings of like-minded crazy artists and dancers, so I made connecting with others a part time job and I eventually found the women I had prayed for daily.
Learning to trust and depend on the friends in my life has opened pathways that have lead me to a greater understanding of myself and helped me to see wounds I wasn’t even aware I needed to heal. Being shamelessly vulnerable, and choosing to be inspired rather than competitive with other women is a practice we can work at everyday. Yes it requires risk and courage, but if you believe that deep connection is something we all crave this will help you to open your heart to the life-changing magic of true sisterhood.
One of my favorite mantras from The Moon Deck is “When I let others shine, I shine too”. While I’ve never intentionally inhibited others from shining, it took awhile to habitually prioritize helping my girlfriends to find their light when they have lost touch with how to shine. This is something we all struggle with from time to time, and were it not for the kindness of my sisters I would not shine as bright as I do today. My girlfriends have generously filled me with their spirit, their dance, their laughter, their secrets, their love - and I am forever better for these gifts. Not only for the immediate affect these actions had on my life, but for the awareness that in helping others you elevate the community and add to an ever-growing symbiotic system of giving and receiving. Looking for ways to make others shine is a great place to start if you are also seeking a supportive community.
Today I’m choosing to reflect on the immense gratitude I have for all the beautiful souls who have found their way into my life – join me in remembering the importance of connection and taking the time to reflect the divine in another.
May we all find the support and love we seek.
May we all be a friend to someone in need.
May we all find the others.