Friendships should not involve pretending to be something that you’re not, or going out of your way to make someone like you. When I think back to the school and university years, I see too much of me trying to please people whilst still figuring myself out. At the grand old age of 28 however my philosophy is this: friendships, just like romantic relationships, should never feel like hard work. A good friendship takes time and energy yes, but there's the underlying feeling that what you're putting in you're definitely getting back out.
These past few months I’ve had to deal with an old friend appearing in my work environment. I was surprised at how unsettling their presence was for me initially: I struggled with having them in my workspace as things ended on a very bad note between us. I’ve now managed to accept their presence and am more at ease with the idea of running into them at any given moment. The whole experience however meant that I had a long think about my friendships with other women, as well as the journey I have taken to understand what friendship means to me. Experience seems to have taught me that a bond between females can be a double-edged sword: incredibly empowering or a little bit destructive.
I'll admit that I've made some bad female friendship choices but I've also learnt some valuable lessons because of those mistakes. The friendships which have ended dramatically were often the result of me changing my behaviour to adapt to the other party. Moving to Paris left me a little vulnerable and unsure of myself, so I settled for situations that I would not stay in today because I prioritised external acceptance over true friendship. I needed these people to fill a void more than I actually wanted them to be friends with them. These days, I choose to surround myself with female friends who want to support me, who don’t judge me when I mess up, who want to laugh with me (or sometimes at me) and who want to give me some tough love when I need it. In turn, this is the type of friend I aspire to be.
I don't think the media helps us as it isn't uncommon to see sensationalist headlines pitting two women in the same profession against each other. This encourages women to see their own sex as competition: for a man, for a job, even for their own self-worth. To go even further, I have seen and heard women put other women down in order to feel better about themselves. Or noticeably size other women up in public. I'm guilty myself of behaving this way in the past therefore I don't mean to point fingers and shame the women who do this. I understand that it is an easy trap to fall into, but I learnt from my mistakes and it has led to a much happier me. I'm also positive about the fact that the tide is turning. We are seeing more examples of women vocally supporting their peers or immediately shutting down any rumours of rivalry. Isn't it a better use of your time to watch Amy Poehler and Tina Fey host the Golden Globes together (and do a great job whilst clearly having fun) than to read about who Katy Perry apparently hates this week and pick a side?
Getting dumped by a girlfriend can be so upsetting, perhaps even worse than a break-up because of the way we connect with other women. We share our secrets or reveal our insecurities, baring our souls and admitting our embarrassments: when that gets thrown back in our face or we are suddenly made to feel unwelcome with no explanation, well that judgement feels pretty shitty. I have learnt so much from my true female friends, about feminism, career paths, trust, children (to have or not to have), loyalty, how to argue constructively and how to be the best person that I can possibly be. And I've learnt not to judge (all of the time, come on guys I'm only human!) I really like how Amy Poehler says it:
“Only hang around people that are positive and make you feel good. Anybody who doesn’t make you feel good, kick them to the curb. And the earlier you start in your life the better. The minute anybody makes you feel weird and non-included or not supported, you know, either beat it or tell them to beat it.”
Natural Losses - What to do when a friend dumps you
Image source : SNL/Giphy