The world may be full of love songs and dedications for mushy, heartstopping, romantic love. But for my money, female friendship is one of the greatest loves of all.
That’s why I couldn’t have clapped harder when I read Rebecca Traister’s article about the role of friendship in women’s lives.
Female friendship isn’t “a consolation prize, some romance also-ran”. Nope, she says, it’s a deep well that enriches women’s lives in ways that often nothing else can.
So what is it that makes female friendship so special?
1 // They’re a safe space
When things get tough, your female friends provide a haven from your life, a place where you can talk, connect and be your real and gloriously flawed self. If your compassion tank has run dry, the friendship circle is better than any yoga retreat. Go in exhausted, come out inspired and replenished. Every day, my friends remind me that I am enough, that I’m worthy of great things, that I deserve a life filled with success, joy and laughter. They reflect the “me” that exists outside of marriage and parenthood, even when I feel like I’ve lost her.
2 // They work for all women
There’s a solidarity that goes with being a member of the sisterhood as we navigate the shared experience of being women in what is still essentially a man’s world. When we’ve been told to take off our engagement rings at job interviews, been paid less than our male counterparts and been made redundant while on maternity leave, we have turned to each other for empathy, advice and a game plan. Whether it’s help writing a legal letter or assistance in setting up our own businesses, we’ve drawn off each other’s expertise to give the middle finger to anyone who has tried to suppress our ambitions or undermine our worth. We are a formidable force when we band together.
3 // They know when to just listen…
Within my friendship haven, I don’t have to feign positivity if I’m feeling down, my friends let me know that it’s ok to fall, to fail, to cry. Throughout my life my friends have been there to remind me that I am enough, that I can be and do anything I envision, that I am worthy of a successful and meaningful life. Their innate response isn’t to solve the problem; instead they just listen, which is often exactly what I need.
4 // And when to push
Support isn’t the same thing as passive agreement! The real girlfriends will lay down the honest truth–because they honestly love you. When I found myself in a bad relationship in my early 20s, my friends supported me to leave and helped set me up in a flat of my own. They loaned me furniture, brought over bottles of wine and let me drunkenly overanalyse things until the early hours. When I was doubtful about navigating a new career path in my late 20s, my female friends pushed me to go back to uni, a decision that turned out to be one of the best moves I’ve ever made. And that’s the thing. Girlfriends know you deserve a fulfilling and imaginative life–and won’t stop until you get one.
That’s not to say that female friendships are always dandy. They can be tricky, complicated and difficult to prioritise when life gets chaotic.
Sometimes pride gets in the way of reaching out, sometimes there just isn’t time to catch up, sometimes weird vibes creep in and we need to have awkward but necessary conversations.
When things have gotten off track with my friends, I’ve been reminded of how much they mean to me and we’ve managed to work things out with a good dose of honesty and self reflection. Other times, friendships have faded but the memories of special times shared together have stayed intact. Some friendships don’t last and that’s ok because as time goes on the ones that do mean more.
Close friendships between women can be one of life’s great pleasures. So here’s to all the fearless and fabulous female friends–may we support them, may we prioritise them, may we be them.
Author: Jacqui McCallum