We Rise by Lifting Others...Stay Strong
My Girlfriendships®: Thoughts, Opinions, and Experiences
Rather than write about negative issues with my girlfriendship®, today I’d like to highlight some of the positives. I believe a girlfriendship can change your world—for good and for bad—but for today, let’s look at the good. I don’t have one specific example or experience, so as the title of the blog states, I just have a few thoughts, opinions, and experiences.
Have you ever felt alone? Has something ever happened in your life that has brought you to the lowest of lows? Have you cried yourself to sleep thinking no one on earth could ever relate to your problem? Have you ever felt left—like you just didn’t belong? I know I have!
Now spin those questions 180°.
Do you have a friend who never leaves your side (maybe even from afar)? When you’re at your lowest, do you have a friend who will always lift you up? Do you have a bestie you can call at any time of the day or night, so you don’t have to cry alone? Do you have a friend who always includes you even when you feel you don’t belong? I know I do!
Not only do I have many of these friends, I also try really hard to be this friend—that’s why I value it so much. Even though I do my best, it’s not always easy to be that friend.
What are your thoughts on that?
Opinions from Experiences
Let’s take a moment to really dig into this phenomenon of girlfriendships shall we?
For as long as I can remember, it seems that females have been taught to be competitive with one another. I would put myself in this category, and I would say that I am competitive with men too. By nature (or by environment), I have always been competitive. I believe it stems from my brother always making a game out of everything, and I so desperately wanted to win. I also think I learned to act this way from my mom who was competitive in a more negative way. She always had to be right and win—not just at games, but at life.
So why do girlfriends compete against each other? I’m not a relationship counselor or expert, but here is my opinion, derived from experience.
When I look back to when I was elementary school-age, I think everyone was testing the waters to see if we were accepted. We were vying for the top position on any scale: Popular. Likeable. Cute. Funny. Athletic. Smart. It’s kinda like “only the strong survive” in those developing days of our character.
Then in junior high and high school, it was a competition for more of the same: more popular, likeable, cute, funny, athletic, smart. Then there were additional scales like best body, coolest, richest…. If you didn’t fit into a group, you were definitely out.
I partied a ton back in high school. (Shhhh, don’t tell my kids!) I never felt obligated, I just felt I functioned better when I was in the center of what I thought was fun. I was accepted. I didn’t feel left out. I fit in. It was easy for me. All those elementary schools I attended taught me how to meet people easily, how to share with everyone, how to adjust to being the new girl. I was frequently on the outside when I arrived at new schools—but only for a little while. I was always trying to be on the inside, so I learned what to do so I could get in.
Because I had figured out how to get “in”, in my later years, I didn’t need to prove myself to people anymore. I already had it and I was content with myself. But by then, I was looking for something more substantial; something that was going to last and not resemble the superficialness of what I had seen before.
When I got to college and then adulthood, I started using a new way to measure myself, and my girlfriendships changed. I sought out women who were responsible and had their heads on straight. I wanted to be friends with those who were focused and strived to be the best they could be. I surrounded myself with women like that because that was who I was trying to be. The older I got, the more I craved deeper relationships with them. I always wanted to be around people, but especially women who were going to lift me up and make me a better person.
Because I was trying to be a better person, I attracted who I thought were better people. I attracted women who cared. Who listened when I spoke. Who saw my ugly side, but stuck with me anyway. I could name these women, but I would inevitably leave someone out and then I would feel awful if they thought it was intentional. Let’s just say I have handfuls of friends who fit the description of what I have described above. And can I tell you how loved I feel because of them? It brings me to tears every time I think about how blessed, fortunate, and grateful I am to have these women in my life.
I have also complained incessantly about reciprocation. My complaint is doing, doing, doing and not receiving. It becomes exhausting and frustrating. So, I am starting to let go and grasp onto what is stable and balanced. For me, that’s what makes a true friendship last. It’s the depth of how you reciprocate, how you support, and how you sustain your balance with one another.
The Lesson. There’s Always a Lesson.
So how do we find these women who lift us up and support our best efforts? Where are the ones who will stick by our side on the dark days? I don’t really know for sure. I just know you have to be that for them, if you want them to be that for you. The old saying, “ You have to be a good friend to have a good friend” really shows its truth here.
We are so much more powerful when we are together supporting one another, making each other feel accepted. Like a small gang, right? But a good gang that means well and flourishes because of it.
I like my gangs. I have a few of them and what I love most is when they surprise me by lifting me up when I didn’t realize that they even noticed I was down. It takes tremendous effort to be that kind of friend. I am still working on it; I hope you will too.
This blog probably won’t be as popular to read as, say, the Walmart blog because there isn’t much dirty laundry here. Just all good stuff. But that’s okay because I know this will resonate with some of you. My hope is that it will encourage you to want to be a better friend and have better friends because of what you’re reading.
I love that you were with me today. See you next week!