When we are little friendship is probably THE most important thing in our lives. We fall out with our friends and make new friends constantly. It is all part of working out who we are and what sort of person we want to be. As we grow older we usually have few friends but they are often deeper and more meaningful.
Throughout our lives we are thrown together with people and we build friendships with the people who fit us best. As children our friends are the people we are in the most classes with, that we do clubs and extracurricular groups with or our parents friend’s children. As adults we throw the net wider, but for many people their closest friends are people from work or whose children go to the same school.
Often as adults we discover who our true friends are in times of hardship. Oprah Winfrey is quoted as saying; “Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo—what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” I found this out when I was ill. Friends who I thought would be there for me no matter what disappeared off the face of the earth and people who I had only recently met walked over hot coals to help me and support me.
Without my female friends I would have given up many years ago.
I wouldn’t have had the confidence to start my business, to grow my business and I would have been drowning in parenting challenges. Without my female friends who would help me see that all the things I struggle with are normal and all women go through them? I am fortunate that I am close to my Mum, sister, and my mother in law and I was very close to my Grandma, but friends fill a different role.
Friends make you laugh and cry. They tell you home truths when you need them and they act like giggling 8 year olds when you need cheering up. Women are, for the most part, nurturing and we all need a little nurturing.
Last weekend I was on my best friend’s Hen weekend in London. We have been friends for almost 10 years and we talk nearly every day. She is one of the first people I tell when I have exciting news and whatever happens she is always there for me. A very, very special person. Despite being friends for almost a decade I have met relatively few of her friends, she lives 125 miles away.
I was reminded during our fabulous day of fine food and haberdashery (yes we made fascinators for the wedding at a fabulous workshop!) that women have an amazing ability to bond in a very short space of time. I had only met the Hen and one other friend before the big day. I had spoken to people by email and text as I had helped to organise it but despite this within minutes of being thrown together we were all sharing details of our lives and bonding over stories of adversity.
When we get together with our girl friends it is like the best informal counselling session ever. We can get things off our chest about our families and work and anything else that we need an opinion on or someone to sympathise.
Most importantly though our friends make us laugh.
Laughing is SO important for our physical and emotional health. It reduces stress and anxiety and is even good for your heart. We all need to laugh more and I don’t know about you but I laugh a lot when I’m with my friends.
This quote from Tanja Taaljard sums up my feelings about female friendship perfectly. We do just instinctively understand the struggles of other women. It is a very special gift.
I’m sure men cater for each other’s needs too, but their needs are different. Men need male friendships just as much as women need female friendships. They need someone to joke with, to talk about their worries, or just someone to distract them from their challenges.
Friendship is friendship.
“Women instinctually know how to nourish each other, and just being with each other is restorative”
Recently I have been reading Girl Code by Cara Alwill Leyba and it raised some brilliant and beautiful points about female friendship. This quote particularly resonated with me; “You know a woman is strong, beautiful, and secure by the way she empowers and inspires others.”
So often women tear each other down. Watching the royal wedding a few weeks ago I realised how easy it is and how quickly I commented on outfits or the look on someone’s face. I’m a friendly, generally non-judgmental person, but when faced with rows and rows of women in such a wide array of hats and dresses my first reaction was to judge.
I’d like to think that that behaviour was out of character but I wonder how often we are all guilty of judging quickly based on appearance?
When it comes to supporting other women though it is so important that we look past first impressions, that we listen and nurture. I understand more than most that our physical appearance isn’t always something we can control. If someone is struggling with depression or mental health issues the last thing they care about is putting on make up and what outfit they are going to wear. Instead of judging we should take time to look deeper and offer support and advice.
It is also important not to judge other because they have different priorities to us. When we see someone wearing very expensive jewellery or designer clothes, or conversely wearing old clothes that have seen better days, let’s try as a society not to immediately make assumptions about the reasons for those choices.
Let’s support each other and teach our children to love each other and look for the similarities in others not the differences. But above all let’s celebrate out friendships. Male, female or animal! Friends are so important and we must never take them for granted.
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