The second piece in our Stories of Sisterhood series is written by the ever-lovely Francesca Willow of Ethical Unicorn.

I Carry Your Heart: Sisterhood Goes Beyond Boundaries

They say you’re the average of your five closest friends.

I used to think this related to physical proximity, but over the last few years I’ve realised that real closeness isn’t about convenience, but choice. Not just the decision of who you allow to speak into and shape your life, but also the resolve to stick with those people when life and its baggage stops being convenient or easy. I’ve seen these choices play out in my female friendships, and I’ve seen first hand a global sisterhood’s strength, resilience, and ability to transcend place and time.

Threads Worldwide - Fair Trade Partners in Guatemala, 2016

Fair Trade Partners in Guatemala, 2016

Sisterhood helped me understand what true family really means. Despite being an only child I’ve been lucky enough to find women in my life who feel as though they are my own siblings. They are smart and strong, resilient and caring, bold and goofy. They are imperfect people who get up every day and try and make themselves and the world around them a little better. They give life 100%, chasing their dreams and pouring out so much of themselves into the lives of others. They are fearless and they are fabulous. If I get to be the average of them, I sure am lucky (heck, I’m getting inspired just writing this!) Each of these women walked into my world at very different, specific times in my life. At each point I have been learning and growing, and their presence has both challenged me and helped me navigate becoming the woman I am today. Family is both a place of comfort and an uncomfortable push to be the best person you can be. I wouldn’t be half of who I am now without the women who have shaped me.

When I need something? They’re there. When I’m lonely? They’re there. When I need a kick up the butt? They’re also there. And they won’t hold back in any of these scenarios.

Over the years I’ve found my sisters scattered across the globe as work, visas and adult life come into the equation. I won’t lie, it’s difficult to see your friends lost to other cities as life continues to relentlessly move forward, reminding you you don’t always get it your way. But it’s through this that I’ve learned that sisterhood really does have no boundaries. It’s when people move away that you learn about friendships that come from active choice, not convenience of closeness. We’ve decided to stay friends because we love each other, inspire each other, and we make each other better. We aren’t pushed together by circumstance any more, we’ve chosen each other. Even when life gets messy.

For some this means texting every day, for others it’s accidentally going two months without talking before making up for it with a mega skype sesh. Sometimes it looks like sitting in silence together through tragedy. Other times it looks like flying halfway across the world to watch your best friend walk down the aisle. Global friendship requires sacrifice, choice and intention. It require the courage to be together in the darkest times, and the freedom to celebrate the lightest. We as women are inherently strong, and we know that the reward is always bigger than the sacrifices needed. In his famous love poem E.E Cummings writes

I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart)

I know this is meant to be a love poem, but I can’t think of better words to describe what sisterhood means to me. It may be years between us being in the same place, it may be months before we actually get around to that skype date, but we are always with each other. I think of how my friends have shaped me, how we have grown together, and the pride I feel as I get to cheer them on in every stage of life, and I know that they are as much a part of me as I am.

The global sisterhood is varied and unique. Each woman comes with a different story, perspective and set of dreams. The women in my life are richly complex and intricate. We talk about art, politics and social justice one minute, and quote mean girls the next. As Walt Whitman so aptly puts it:

I am large, I contain multitudes.

Woman are fascinating and multi-faceted, which is why we must choose to lift them up wherever and however we find them. It’s why we must choose to celebrate them, support them and raise them. Women are full of multitudes, when those women come together I believe we can be an unstoppable.

Sometimes I catch myself saying or doing something in just the same way as one of my friends, and it makes me smile. I’ve picked up the little quirks, the different facets, of my friends. The older I get, the more I feel like a big old jumble of myself and those I carry with me. And isn’t that just beautiful.

They say you’re the average of your five closest friends, I count myself lucky to be a mix of such wonderful global sisters.

This article is dedicated to my global sisters in five different time zones: Helen, Marin, Madison, Abbie, Hazel and Ashleigh.

Threads Worldwide - Artisan Partners in Uganda

Artisan Partners in Uganda