Updated: Jul 17, 2020
I spent more time than I would like to admit alongside other white women trying to “find myself.” We burned our endangered white sage, sat in a circle, stretched out our hamstrings, cut and pasted clippings from magazines, our dreams on bristol boards slapped on to the wall; not putting together that a lot of this stuff has to do with privilege over the determination to create an epic life for ourselves. We manifested with laser focus, we bit our tongues in conflict because the goal is to be nice to everyone and spreading love and light to all. We gritted through coffee dates because that self-help book said “talk it out,” which turned into a passive-aggressive standoff to see who cracks first, begrudgingly leaving the conversation without getting anywhere, but forging full throttle towards forgiveness. All the while, vigorously maintaining “high vibrations,” anger is low on the spectrum, treated like the plague.
It was a tall, exhaustive order full of nuanced expectations that kept me in constant forward motion and preoccupied with niceness. I am speaking from my white woman experience to other white women because they seem to be the most disgruntled at my failures, especially when I started speaking out about how flawed this pursuit is.
My vibrations on the emotion scale were not “good vibes only,” but I sure did try my best to fake it in case I got found out.
I failed miserably at becoming this flavour of spiritual white woman, and I finally understand why. I went down different avenues that were put forth by the self-development, yoga, and spiritual worlds; draping mala beads around my neck (looking the part helps right?), I repeated mantras, and I manifested the life I wanted, I wrote down desired feelings in a notebook, only to look at them once, and never again. Is it “I am what I manifest?” or “what I think I become”? Blah blah, then something about calling in abundance and slathering on copious amounts of essential oils to balance mental health. I attended multiple yoga classes per week, worked hard to find my “tribe,” and like-minded “sisterhood” friends. I say that jokingly because this is a term I have chosen to stop using out of respect for actual indigenous tribes. Also, true sisterhood is not a group of white women having a get together to talk about the benefits of essential oils, secretly working out our wounds on each other, and listing off our rigorous self-care routines — sorry this does not deserve sisterhood status. We all deserve more than that.
I went on yoga and self-discovery retreats and hosted a few, too. I attended a plethora of self-development workshops and online seminars, put on some of my own as well. I blazed through self-help books by the dozen, almost all written by white people. I attended a ten-day silent meditation retreat, probably so I could talk about how spiritual I was becoming, and use that as a status symbol of how well on my way to becoming a sage or a more actualized version of myself. I felt the pressures to become an expert, and that I had “arrived” into a more self-actualized version of myself, looking down upon those who “just haven’t quite got there yet.” Especially those “angry people.”
Something was always missing for me, which I took on as a personal failure for too long. It kept me from setting boundaries with people from my past that I needed to let go of. It kept me from speaking unwavering truth no matter the outcome, tapping into righteous anger, and using it wisely. It kept me from realizing that all this self-help wasn’t helping, it was burning me out and keeping me distanced from the real work I needed to do.
What helped? I started reading books written from an unbiased un-whitewashed lens, and the light bulb went off, I AM WHITE-WASHED. I forced myself to look at my prejudices and biases, to admit how my white ignorance is affecting others. I continue to learn about my embedded set of privileges and how I can decrease harm by examining these truths, creating some awareness around it and passing it on.
I became more myself when I admitted that a lot of this stuff wasn’t working for me, realizing something was inherently flawed with the structure, and that it wasn’t for the betterment of ALL people. I was not okay with the way white spirituality bolstered willful ignorance, encouraging spiritual bypassing, breezing over social issues while capitalizing off of marginalized voices, culturally appropriating in the name of self-love and development without a care of who it is harming, co-opting language to use as empowerment tools. All things I am guilty of doing and being a part of. These Industries encourage complicity, exclusively, entitlement, and egotistical self-regard.
What is NOT empowering or high vibe? Wearing our privilege and ignorance like a badge of honour, steeped in lavender oil, spouting off that love and light is the answer to everything. We are not all having the same experience. It is these whitewashed spiritual views that uphold systems of oppression, keeping you further from yourself.
I bet some of you who are reading this are white women who are rejoicing that I am openly admitting my failures. “See, she is just bitter and angry because she failed at it!” “She must be low vibration, let’s send her love and light and hope she can get on our level.”
We drank the same kool-aid. Trust me when I say there is a big piece of the pie missing, and the division you think I create by waking up to the mess of “finding ourselves,” is more damaging when we don’t examine the inherent flaws within it. We have completely missed the point of doing any work on ourselves if we can’t acknowledge the shadow side of this.
I eventually came to realize that this is another way to preoccupy us, to keep the patriarchy intact, and we, spiritual white women, are falling into place and keeping white supremacy intact too. Trust me when I say, if you knew the truth, you would be enraged, yet you do not want to go there. Ask yourself, why? A hint, white comfort, the benefits of whiteness and privileges outweigh the moral compass.
These flawed industries make billions keeping us obsessive about perfection and individual achievement.
They keep us buying more.