One thing that really stands out for me in my adult life is the dramatic shift of balance between friendships. Comparing my relationships now to the ones I had in high school is near impossible because they simply don’t resemble each other.
We as women have society dictate so much to us; how to look, eat, exercise… but mostly, how to judge ourselves and judge others. You don’t have to go far to see headlines on magazines critiquing celebrity relationships or bodies or bitchy memes attacking other girls’ makeup skills or slut shaming them. We call the practice of destroying other women’s self esteem ͞clapping back͟ as though their mere existence is so offensive to us that our condemnation is a response, rather than an attack.
This brings me to our close female friendships. We’re so reliant on our judgements that we pass on others and ourselves that it effects our interpersonal relationships. How can we truly love ourselves without a village of people who support us and love us too? And how can we love others when we treat our day to day lives and accomplishments as a competitive sport? Life is not a pissing contest.
You don’t get a prize for how many boxes you tick on social media bingo, but you do feel an immense sense of reward when you find your tribe to come home to after every uphill battle, breakup and every good moment like a pregnancy or a promotion. LI have been so fortunate that despite my headache of a year in 2016, I’ve had a group of loving and supportive people around me who have continued to help me grow when I was able and to carry my
crosses with me when I was at low points. Here is quick how-to guide for adult friendships:
1. Do not be friends with people who judge you.
This may seem like common sense, yet this is something many women struggle with. If you
feel like your friends would judge you for your life choices, your appearance or your tastes, they’re not your friends. You do not need to live your life as a series of confessions, but if you feel like you need to lie or hide facets of yourself which you hold dear, you need to leave
that relationship. Pronto. Its unhealthy.
2. Say ͚I love you͛. Mean it.
This is something we all need. We all want to feel like we have people around us who love
and accept us and who care about us. Friendship is not a one way street. If you feel like you are being cared for, express it. Show thanks and gratefulness when people help you or show small acts of kindness and consideration.
3. Show an interest.
I find it easy to make friends and maintain friendships. Often, I’m baffled as to why people who I think are so interesting, intelligent, attractive or talented would want to spend time with me so I actually asked one of my close friends. I was told “you actually stay in touch with me”. We all want to be texted first or invited somewhere, yet none of us want the awkwardness involved in the act of inviting someone for a coffee or sending them a text.
Everyone finds it awkward or stressful and fears that they are the person who’s too keen.
You’re probably not. Keeping in contact and showing an interest is so easy, yet makes such a difference.
4. Do not judge others
The things which matter to us in our lives and we discuss with our friends are usually our romantic relationships, careers and families. These are sacred ground and we use our friends
as a sounding board when things aren’t going great or to express excitement. As a result, we
often polarise the image we show others. How many times have you had an argument with
your S/O and vented to your friend only to have the negativity pass and your friend now hates your partner. It’s important to vent about things when they’re bothering you, but likewise remember that your friends do the same. You can offer advice, but it’s never your
place to get involved in other people’s relationships or jobs or to punish them as a result. If
you decide to be horrible to your friend’s partner or boss, you’re sabotaging their lives instead of being supportive. Let them make their decisions and support them through them
and you will be offered the same.
5. Realise that your different relationships will fill different roles and so will you in their lives.
We all have different friends which we enjoy doing different things with. We have friends
who we enjoy going on a night out with, some which you will binge watch trash tv and talk
with at home, many who fall somewhere in between with, a ride-or-die (or two if you’re lucky) and the people who you go to for advice as well. You also have a role in which other
people place you. Some people will be happy to hang out at home with you but don’t seem
to invite you out when they’re partying. This doesn’t mean that you’re boring or they don’t
like you, it means that they value your time most when you’re at home and eating pizza and
marathoning stranger things. Some friends enjoy the weird mundane daytime adventures
where you start with a coffee date but somehow, inexplicably end up at Ikea. Some friends
are people who you adore and have known for years, yet somehow only get in touch when
something important happens and will drop everything for each other in a time of crisis. All
of these relationships hold an equal value, but we can’t be everything to everyone and we
cannot expect that same standards from others either. Being free from jealousy makes your
time together happier and your load a little lighter when you’re staring at the ceiling at 3am
after deciding to drink an evening coffee (again).
6. Remember that you are not in competition.
Not with your friends, not with anyone. Life is not a contest. Do not compare yourself to
your friends because you perceive them as being prettier, more successful, etc. We all have
things we admire in others but it doesn’t somehow mean that you yourself do not possess
admirable traits as well. One person’s beauty or intelligence or talent does not exist at the
absence of yours. Cut out people who make you feel like you’re in competition and resist the
urge to be jealous.
Remember, every good girl gang is based on a foundation of mutual respect and awesomeness.