An Open Letter To My Girlfriends

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Priscilla Du Preez / Unsplash

To the women who’ve chosen me, who’ve pushed me to grow, who’ve motivated me and encouraged me, and who’ve shown me what it means to be a friend, a sister, a daughter, and a woman, this is for you.

Thank you.

In a world that is driven by social media presence, and by photographs that are cropped, edited, and filtered into unrealistic versions of who we are for the sake of being digestible for other people, and in a culture that largely pits women against each other, I feel so fortunate that I get to walk this earth shoulder to shoulder with women who allow me to be authentically who I am.

You’ve shown me solidarity by walking alongside me and existing in this universe at the same time—a time when it is often an inconvenience simply being a female. It is through these friendships that I’ve grown the most as a woman. It is through these friendships that I’ve been able to start chiseling away at the wall I’ve built around my heart—that I can slowly start to raise the white flag and give up the act. That maybe I don’t need to be as fiercely independent as I thought I had to be. Maybe I never really was. Maybe it was all just a defense—a quiet cry and desperate need to be seen, and known, and remembered.

Through staggering heartache and the kind of pain that takes your breath away, through loss, and setbacks, and failures, and many, many missed attempts at trying to get it right, through the highs of love, and growth, and change, and the downfalls that weave their way into our lives, I have seen what it means for a woman to lean into her tribe and be seen, and known, and remembered. I know the power of sisterhood.

You show up, right in the trenches of life, and lead with big, loud, proclamations shouting, ‘me too’—two words validating the human condition. Two words validating womanhood. You acknowledge that life is hard, that life will always be hard. And through the aches and pains, we have each other. We show up for each other even when we can’t muster the strength to show up for ourselves. The truth is, we are in the thick of it all, in varying degrees, and in different phases. We are trudging in the muck, growing up, growing older, building lives for ourselves, learning how to find balance in nourishing relationships, starting families, growing our careers, and learning to grasp at whatever is leftover of ourselves to just be okay. And we know that despite the chaos and the weight of our own lives, we have a home base – a sounding board, a place where we can run to and be seen, and known, and remembered.

Thank you for being a light. For shining that light on the fragmented pieces of myself that I previously refused to see as whole. For refusing to leave until I see that you were right all along. That it was never me who was broken. You see the things that I refuse to see in myself. You encourage me to be the best version of myself. You make me feel like that version is enough. You encourage vulnerability and sensitivity. You allow me to be soft in a world that defines softness as weakness. You see underneath all the layers of stoicism, and cynicism, and sarcasm. You see all the darkest pieces of myself and you make me feel seen, and known, and remembered.

Because of you, I refuse to harden.

Thank you for seeing me—as a person, a woman, a friend—and not defining me by the roles that society keeps telling me I have yet to fulfill. Thank you for never being the kind of women who use their roles as status symbols. Thank you for never filling conversation with venom or vitriol, for never attacking or judging. For never being the kind of women who put up walls and pedestals and see themselves as superior.

Thank you for never taking a hammer and nail and building a bridge between who we are. Thank you for never shaming me and for seeing me as whole as I am. Thank you for never making me feel less than, for never isolating me, for seeing all of the pieces that make me who I am and reminding me that that is enough.

Thank you for growing with me and for seeing me through all different phases of life. For being with me when I made poor teenage choices, for holding my hair back while I paid homage to the porcelain goddess in college, for sitting with me in the dead of the night on an empty swing set on the beach trying to make plans for our futures—and for walking beside me when that plan we drew up a decade ago goes awry. We’ve stood by each other through all different forms of schooling, through relationship highs and lows, through marriages, through babies, for some, through celebrations and mourning, and through the subtle reminder that though we will continue to grow older and grow into different versions of who we are meant to be, there is something that is still so sacred at the core of all of this—and that is friendship. Real, true, honest friendship.

Thank you for having all the right words, but for knowing when silence is far more powerful. For filling my life with the kind of joy, and love, and laughter, and comfort that I craved as an angsty adolescent girl. For hearing me, for agreeing with me, for politely tapping on my shoulder and nudging me when I am wrong. For saying, ‘me too,’ for teaching me, for learning from me, and for showing me what friendship is.

Thank you for showing me what it means to be a badass woman who juggles relationships, motherhood, careers, and friendship. And for reminding me that the balancing act isn’t always graceful—but when we do fall from grace, as we all will every now and then, at least we have each other.

And because we have each other, we will always feel seen, and known, and remembered. TC mark

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