In Our Late 20s, We Need Our Girlfriends More Than Ever

Three smiling women in glasses hold up a large pink scarf in Lý Sơn
Hưng Nguyễn / Unsplash

Having true girlfriends is like winning a prize in a contest you never actually entered—an insanely precious gift.

We met as young girls, fireworks of energy. Twisted in a whirlwind of sleepovers, frozen pizzas, trails of gossip and notes folded up into pretty triangles, pressing our mother’s lipsticks to our mouths. Nights where we flailed our arms around dancing and trying to impress the others, self-conscious and awkward bodies, broken hearts and crying and doing each other’s hair. We were “Teen Queens,” inseparable, getting to know ourselves while watching each other become the person they were meant to be. It’s was all so magical and so exciting, we never woke before 11am, the day before was too tangled up with excitement and memories we’d never forget—how could we?

“In some other life we are standing side by side and laughing that, in some other life we are apart.”

As we grow to any adult age really, it seems we grasp for those kinds of times we had when we were younger, while we much more often cross paths with women like ourselves who are feeling similarly to us—lonely. The scientific hierarchy of our lives in our late 20s change—research shows it. We’re in that perfect nook of time where next steps are happening. A space of lots of “scaries,” ping-ponging our way through mounting stresses, demanding jobs, babies, miscarriages, rings, defeats, OKcupid apps, successes, trying to keep our asses the way they were 10 years ago, trying to find out where the fuck we are going. These times are mixed with the usual comforts and joys, but still we have to recognize the mutual agony we are sharing as women: the fact is this: we need friends at this moment in our lives– connections and like-mindedness and most of all, understanding. We need a support system that genuinely wants to see us win.

“Friendships shape who we are and who we are yet to be. They soothe our tumultuous inner world, fill the emotional gaps and help us remember who we really are. Research suggests that women respond to stress with a cascade of brain chemicals that cause us to make and maintain friendships with other women.”

So how have we let our friendships become like quick sand? Each day it seems we try to keep our feet above, keep clean, keep walking. One step. Two step. Three step. Some days there feels like there are no steps at all. Somehow, many women feel there is no one to celebrate their lives with, their art, their truths…we often even hide things only other women would understand from each other in hopes of never being judged. And instead of making a change, we look at others with envy, or even look at the past moments we shared with others with envy. Hoping somehow we can get those minutes back.

We must remember that among many lovely things (great food, great sex, great relationships with our families) we are (and can be) validated even more by the great company we keep in this very fragile place we are living in. We must pick ourselves up and find the ones that provide us with the core of what we need from adulthood—connection, shared sensibilities, laughter, some nights “cheers”ing to you or to her and some nights just sitting and saying nothing at all.

We need to recreate contemporary versions of the very old webs of support we once felt, the days when we were firecrackers and sparklers of gals, the days when friendships weren’t just flickers of light.

The truth is, there will be friendships that wander, there is no doubt. They often come back. Nothing is irrevocable. But most importantly, we have to know and believe that real, true, overwhelmingly supportive friendships are within reach, if we just reach out and grab them. TC mark

Emily Marucci is a poet and photographer whose work can be seen in her new book Stories.

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