Until recently, when women told me they didn’t have other lady friends, I took it as a sign to run away as quickly as possible.
“Women are so catty!”
“Men are so much easier!”
“I just don’t get girls!”
My eyes glazed over and all I heard was insecurity.
We are cultured to compete with one another, which makes avoidance of friendships with other women the easiest route to success. Befriending people, and dealing with all that entails, is tough.
People make messes of their lives that you have to see them through, go through break ups and ramble about them too much, disagree with your politics.
Friendships can also do funny things to you. You tell someone that embarrassing childhood story you’ve never told a soul and suddenly feel lighter. You find a space to share how hard work has been and how life isn’t turning out how you’d planned. You start crying out of nowhere and by some magic they don’t get up and walk away.
On the worst days, Sartre is right, and Hell is other people, and you have to spend your day off helping the girl from your Pilates class who’s obsessed with her cat move across town.
But there are days that friendships are so incredibly important and uplifting.
I’m pretty sure vulnerability is the key to keeping friendships good. And so far I’ve learned that that looks like these things:
Honesty with yourself, with the other person, with reality. If you are incredibly angry, or lonely, or you just fell on your face (metaphorically or literally), you’ve got to fess up. Otherwise, walls will build, and you aren’t vulnerable anymore.
Self-Love, an appreciation for who you are, what you do, and how you contribute to this earth. You don’t feel the need to compete or break others down when you feel confident in who you are.
Empathy, the ability to imagine yourself in someone else’s circumstance is vital to being open and receptive.
Celebrating the successes of the people you love. It is really brave to do this, and sometimes takes practice, especially when things in your own life aren’t fantastic.
Vulnerability isn’t just a feel-good sentiment, it has a powerful impact on your entire existence:
Learning all of this has changed my perspective drastically. Now, when women tell me they don’t get women, I try to convince them to get coffee with me. I try to understand, love, appreciate, and celebrate them. I try to show them we don’t have to be the worst things people say about us.