The University Of Womanhood
What are some of the things that make you difficult to deal with for the people you love? As the writing prompt echoed around the silent room I forced myself to think honestly about something I’ve never had to give much thought to. It’s a question that urges you to look within the deepest recesses of yourself and confront the seemingly unpleasant traits that may be causing friction in your relationships, without you acknowledging it. It’s a tough one. But these prompts aren’t meant to be easy. They’re meant to make us dig deep and share the things we discover - regardless of whether we find sparkling gems or uncomfortable secrets buried in a bit of unsightly dirt.
As I quickly write notes in response to the prompt, I remind myself to be honest because that’s what this space was meant to be about. Writing the answers isn’t the difficult part. I know that after my nervous scribbling I will have to share what I’ve written with the five other women who are also anxiously putting paper to pen. I remind myself that I have a duty to be honest - with myself and with them. Because to attempt to conceal the less palatable parts of myself would defeat the entire purpose of the exercise, and disrespect the space that we’ve curated.
We talk about many things in this space. We’ve opened up about our traumas, delved into some of the unpleasant experiences that have shaped our present reality and reminded each other of the things that make us beautiful and powerful women. We encourage each other to embrace vulnerability, practice accountability and always ask ourselves and each other the tough questions. We hold each other’s hands, walk each other through the process of finding the answers to these uncomfortable questions and remind each other that we’re not alone in this journey of womanhood.
We aim to do this on the first Sunday of each month… my friends and I envelop ourselves in a sacred space of feminine energy and honesty, surrounded by wine, food and feelings. It has been such an empowering space for us all, and a means of release. It has allowed us to take a moment from actively being mothers, daughters, girlfriends, employees… and just be women… in our most vulnerable state… sharing the things that concern, preoccupy, reassure and affirm us as women. We speak openly about motherhood, early sexual experiences, dating, work, goals, self-esteem and everything in between.
This space has enabled me to embrace a level of self-awareness that I did not even recognize I was missing. Equally important is the wealth of lessons that it has opened my eyes to. I learn so much every Sunday, about myself, about my friends and about the universal experience of being a woman. During one of our sessions, one of my friends commented that she felt like she was in a class at the University of Womanhood. As soon as she casually uttered those words, I knew that there was no better way to encapsulate what was happening in that space. We were actively learning how to accept the not-so-pleasant parts of our experience as women - how to deal with them, take the necessary lessons with us and leave behind the parts that aren’t meant to be carried around veiled in shame, guilt or fear. We were also learning to embrace the best versions of ourselves and be proud of those experiences that make us wonderful. We were teaching each other to flaunt our talent and strengths shamelessly, to not shy away from the beautiful parts of our womanhood.
Most of all, in this space I learn that I am not alone. I learn that while many of the struggles I battle may be unique to my circumstances, there are women all around me, women just like me, who have faced similar obstacles. That knowledge gives me reassurance, it gives me comfort and it gives me strength. It reminds me of our resilience as women. It reassures me of my power and why I must stand in it fearlessly.
It’s not always easy, these Sunday sessions. On more than one occasion some of us have been overcome with emotion. We’ve taken moments to allow each other to deal with the feelings that erupt in the moment and we offer the necessary comfort and reassurance. We attempt to sort through what’s behind those feelings as best as we can and we remind each other that healing is a journey, not a race. It’s not always doom and gloom either. We laugh, a lot. At ourselves and at each other. We also dare to laugh in the face of the things that are meant to intimidate us, the parts of life that threaten to break our spirits.
So here’s to the ladies of my First Sunday group - thank you for all you’ve done for me. Thank you for teaching me to greet myself with acceptance, understanding, patience, and grace. Thank you for extending all of the above to me, and giving me the opportunity to extend the same to each of you in return. It has taught me the importance of wrapping myself in that same space of love and encouragement… to treat me the way you’ve all treated me. I hope every woman is as lucky as I am to have a circle of bold, self-aware, fiercely intelligent and nurturing women… women who walk with you through the hallowed walls of the University of Womanhood.
Written by Amanie Mathurin
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