“Someone once described female friendship to me as a soft place to land, and it was. The women I love are like a life raft I didn’t know I was looking for before I got on it.” — Text Me When You Get Home: The Evolution and Triumph of Modern Female Friendship by Kayleen Schaefer
Today, I had an amazingly sun-kissed breakfast with my beautiful NZ bestie to celebrate my 35th birthday. I didn’t notice the time fly by (but that’s how it is when we get together) and I’m still floating from the euphoria of our time spent together. Of course we see each other every day, but still, every meeting is filled with nonstop talk, laughs, and giggles. It was the best way to welcome my birthday, especially this year.
After I got home, I couldn’t help but think about all the hands I’ve held and the shoulders I’ve leaned on, through the years, from a little girl to a grown woman, to get to where I am today. Not surprisingly, these were female hands and female shoulders. My mother, my sister, my aunts, my school besties, my college friends, my co-workers, and my lady friends post-marriage and post-separation. You all know who you are. These female friendships have kept me afloat for 35 years; they have carried me through the eye of the storms, encouraged me to find the light at the end of every tunnel, and persistently stayed by my side through it all – good, bad, and everything in between. The reason I am here today, still smiling, still working hard, still hoping, is because they haven’t allowed me to lose sight of my goals, give up my dreams, or ever forget my true worth. I’m a strong woman, yes, but I’ve been made stronger by my female tribe.
It’s a pity that mainstream media insists on pitting women against each other (Means Girl style; women pulling each other down through vicious catfights and manipulative backstabbing for the sake of being Queen Bee)… because this isn’t what most female friendships are about. The claws don’t always come out, and believe it or not, we are not all interested in fighting over men. There has been so much negative attention on the relational aspects of women and female friendships that I often wonder if there is a hidden agenda to dethrone the innate solidarity of feminine connection in order to protect the masculine power. It really is unfortunate, because women provide strong pillars of support not just to their children, their partners, their families, but more so for their fellow women. There is nobody else who can understand a woman’s joys, sorrows, fears, and desires, better than another woman. That is precisely where the core of female friendships exists – within the folds of our different, and yet intricately similar, realities. And this exquisite connection must be recognized and celebrated, not shunned and defiled.
The collective strength of women lies in the beauty of these female friendships, where we help each other stay on course and cheer ourselves past the finish lines.
On my 35th birthday today, I want to say a big thank you for all the beautiful women who have entered my life and captured a space within my heart. You have all played a tremendously significant part in getting me to where I am today, and making me who I am on my 35th birthday. You have seen me through the finish line, and I know you will continue to cheer me on as I dare greatly to approach many more “finish lines” in my future. Thank you for being so kind, loving all of me in a way that is nonjudgmental, wholesome, and complete. Thank you for your encouragement, gently pushing me to ride out even the most tiresome waves without going under. Thank you for letting me be a part of your life story, learning from your wisdom and growing from your inspiration.
And, most of all, thank you for always believing in me. Because if you didn’t, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t either.