Musing: How I’d Explain Sisterhood to an Alien

If I had chose a handful of words to describe myself, “sister” would be one of them. This is not so much because I view myself as a sister – I do – but because the love, appreciation, challenges and understanding I have received as a sister define the way I understand myself.

I have been sistered.

That is, I’ve been loved whole-heartedly and with eyes wide open – no cotton candy-colored glasses needed. This is how I’ve loved in return. To me, this very real, very humbling understanding and appreciation of your singularity is what sisterhood means.

It’s also fundamentally serendipitous – you have no real control over whether you’re a sister – but it is your opportunity to make wonderful. I am so thankful for my sisters for so many reasons, but one of them is our mutual commitment to having a healthy relationship.

That’s not how sisterhood feels, though. If I had to describe sisterhood to an alien, this is what I’d say:

Where there could just as easily be nothing, there is something.

You’re a near-weightless mote, suspended in an undulating mass that is something like the ocean, though there’s no real surface. There is a sense of time passing, and a sense of forward motion. 

There’s also a sense of isolation, until you sense other motes. These motes are bound to you and you to them, and with your combined mass, you can begin to move with purpose, begin to test boundaries, begin to understand more about the nature of your environment.

Where there could just as easily be distance, there is closeness.

Rather than tethered, you’re connected like a molecule, held together by pure energy. That energy is strong and flexible and undeniable.

Together, you are stronger and together you can travel farther. Together, you are safe.

Where there could just as easily be only awareness, there is understanding.

As a sister, you’re more than conscious, you’re aware. More than aware, you’re empathetic. When you move as one – even distantly – you can also begin to feel as one – even remotely. It’s a unique sympathy and symmetry. In my case, it’s a three-part harmony.

+Tell us about your experience as a sister, and we may share it as a guest essay in August! Just email

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