The other week I wrote about Why Finding Your Girl Gang is an Act of Self Care, and this week at The Artful Business Conference, I'll be speaking to a similar topic (OMG it's only a few days away now!).
I think it's a truly wonderful thing that we are able to create such wonderful - and essential groups of wholeheartedly supportive, and likeminded women.
Towards the end of the post, I wrote,
They'll be there through the good, the bad, the ugly tears, the hysterical laughter, and everything in between.
They're the people you don't need to apologise to when you turn to them for help, or ramble off topic, because they're just glad that you feel safe enough to share with them.
This is something I wholeheartedly KNOW to be true, however it's something that I've had to learn over time.
Something I've noticed a lot recently, is this overwhelming tendency that women have to apologise for sharing, or speaking up. Maybe this is because I'm more aware of the language I use, so I notice it when I hear or see it coming from others - but I see it so much, that I even did my first Periscope on this very topic.
As young girls, we're taught to be seen an not heard, or that we're less intelligent or less capable than boys - and often this happens in really subtle and unintended ways. In adulthood this often plays out horrendously, with men who can't handle having their opinions challenged by a woman - or even just hearing a woman say no to them. We only need to look to the prevalence of street harassment, or to the way in which men troll women in online spaces to see how this functions.
As children we're taught that "Girls are made of sugar and spic, and all things nice", so as adults, we're reluctant to buck the trend, speak out of line, or to share when things just aren't going so great.
We learn that men don't want to hear about our petty dramas, and we're taught to fear open and honest friendships with women because we're catty, backstabbing, manipulative and hyper-competitive - ESPECIALLY within the business world.
We've recently seen a whole swathe of think pieces in response to former Google Executive, Ellen Petry Leanse's article about the limiting impact using the word "JUST" has on women, so we KNOW that our use of language is seriously effecting the way we allow ourselves to show up and be taken seriously in the world.
The same thing goes with apologising.
I'm notorious for writing long, ranting or rambling Facebook posts and comments, but not once have I qualified it with a TL;DR - and not once have I dismissed anyone else's post with it. I see dudes throwing that excuse around so frequently, as if their time is somehow too valuable to consider anyone else's thoughts or feelings that can't be summed up in two sentences.
Sadly, I think so much of this lack of connection - or lack of desire to connect that we encounter in male dominated spaces, has coloured the way we speak in safer, female only spaces.
Do you know what, I think?
TO HELL WITH THIS!
The Girl Gang is intended to be a safe, women's only space, where everyone's voice and opinion is valued - so long as they engage respectfully. (It is however a spam-free space, so anyone who just wants to gatecrash the space by copying and pasting content left, right and centre, without taking the time to get to know anyone, will be told to stop or leave.)
I want Rad Bitches to do more than just find their voices, but to fucking well OWN them.
If I've invited you into the space, it's because I think you have something valuable to share with everyone in there.
If I tell you that you can call me at any time of day or night - whatever is going on - then I damn well mean it.
If I ask you how you are and what's been happening, it means I'm interested in your life beyond just hearing, "Good", "Okay", or "Not bad."
I fucking LOVE real conversations, and those are built on details, not small talk or single word responses.
Women are social beings, and we crave connection.
We want to support one another, and we NEED to feel supported and understood - and I want every one of us to totally feel as if we DESERVE to be heard.
No more shame over T.M.I., or Over Sharing.
No more, "I'm sorry to dump this on you!" or "Sorry for the essay!" or dismissive "TL;DR".
Yes to more honesty, openness and vulnerability.
To quote Louise Berkinow:
"Female friendships that work are relationships in which women help each other to belong to themselves."
Do you know how I feel when a friend I really, truly care about comes to me when shit has hit the fan, or when a Girl Gang member feels safe enough to share a part of her soul with us?
I sure as shit don't shut down my browser and roll my eyes thinking, "Oh no. Here we go again!"
I feel grateful that someone I think is awesome has someone to turn to - and how amazing it is that they trust me enough to be that person.
I'm blown away that a space I've created allows them to feel connected to people who get them.
Instead of saying "SORRY", let's start saying "THANK YOU!"
Thank you for listening.
Thank you for being here.
Thank you for sharing.
Thank you for caring.
The second we all start being a little more appreciative of one another, the world will start to feel a little safer, and a lot less lonesome.