One of the most important and often underrated necessities for young girls and women is to have close and true female friends. I'm not talking about those temporary cliques you join to prevent yourself from being swallowed up in the crowds of school and university, but those other women who you really connect with on a deeper level. Why is this so important? Because we are shaped by the people we surround ourselves with and so it's important that those people are the ones who are helping us to become who we want to be. And, likewise, they are the people that we can be proud of helping them become who they want to be. This is a role that guys can't play for us; it's something special and transforming.
Now, while I think most people will agree that this kind of friendship sounds terrific and desirable, some people aren't sure either how to find it or what it looks like when they do. Like all friendships, whether transitory or long-lasting, they begin by putting your feet out in the waters and finding who comes to stand with you. I know this can be difficult! As an introvert, I usually spend a month or more people-watching before ever speaking to them. Yet, even in doing this, I am happy to say that I have more than one truly fantastic friends and these ladies have helped me and encouraged me in my journey into womanhood and to understanding myself.
The girl-friends that you should be looking for are those who support you in pursuing high ideals. As young women, we can't be half-hearted about life: we need to take a stand for something and be willing to let that be a developing ground for us. However, if the people we surround ourselves with aren't encouraging us, or move us away from those ideas, we will eventually lose our footing. The world is a big place: we're going to be bombarded with all kinds of things and people who bring us down, so it's important that we have a girl-friend beside us who will weather the storms with us.
We should be looking for fellow women who make us feel good about ourselves. The media tells us enough how we should look or dress to be attractive and popular: we don't need to surround ourselves further with those messages. As young women, if we want to be able to recognize that inner and unique beauty that is present in ourselves, we need to have people in our lives who can see it when we have trouble seeing it ourselves. In my experience, it is often easier to feel more insecure about our appearance, quirks, and habits in the presence of other women rather than men. That's why it's so important to have girl-friends who make you feel that everything about you is what makes you irreplaceable and loveable.
We should also find friends who want to be with us because they love our presence. We need the girls who will cry on our shoulders and allow us to cry on theirs to teach us empathy and the girls who will stay up until 3am laughing about nothing with to teach us how to be lighthearted. We need friends with whom we can discuss our passions and together learn how to be strong, change-makers. We need girl-friends who we can make lasting memories with who will teach us to enjoy every moment.
As women, we have the greatest impact on each other. That's why we need to have other girls and young women as our best of friends. We're the ones who can really help shape us into the great women we're all destined to become.