When I first came into community with the witchy/woo-woo women of my town, I was so terrified that I didn’t belong.
They all had different body types from me, wore flowy knit dresses and long beaded earrings from the same maker I had never heard of, and drank tea from expensive Chinese teapots in a ceremonial way I had never seen before. They sang beautiful songs and knew how to play the guitar and drums with ease.
I wanted to so badly to belong, but my lack of familiarity with the norms made me feel like the dreaded other.
I wanted community and I loved who these women were, so I showed up to each gathering I was invited to and slowly started to feel like I could belong here.
I even volunteered to host a full moon women’s circle at my house. I was excited to give back to a community that was giving me, a newcomer, so much.
Until I realized….I didn’t have a Chinese teapot. And I didn’t know anything about Chinese tea.
I was a western herbal tea kind of girl. I could pick herbs from the garden and had the basics in tea bag form in my pantry. That wasn’t what I’d had at any of the other gatherings I’d been to. And that could mean only one thing to the terrified little girl inside me…
I didn’t belong!
I expressed this to a fellow sister, one who had volunteered to co-host the gathering with me. I shook with shame as I shared with her how unqualified I was to host this gathering. I was going to do it all wrong, and the women would know I was a fraud and would reject me from this circle I held so dear.
This friend, Katina (who has become such a dear sister and fellow believer in circling with women) listened to me without any judgement in her eyes and responded to me, gently and lovingly, with these words: “Becca, it’s just tea.”
What mattered was the fact that we were gathering at all.
What mattered was that there was a warm house for us to gather in. What mattered was that I was showing up exactly as I was. That was enough.
We ended up having a lovely gathering—with tea from an English teapot (complete with a wool knit cozy) made from the herbs of my garden. I wore leggings and a kimono that made me feel like a beautiful goddess. Katina opened the circle with her drum and a song. I read a poem. We had a beautiful evening filled with laughter, tears, and connection.
I realized that, despite our primal urges to assimilate to the norms of a group, true belonging comes from being witnessed and seen exactly as you are. It comes from speaking your truth and being held in it, even when it is different from everyone else.
That is where we can heal these wounds of separateness and division that has plagued our society (specifically women) for hundreds of years.
Because it’s just tea.