In Kindergarten, I liked my best friend because she was nice to me, and because her dad bought me fairy floss Zooper Doopers every Wednesday afternoon in the summer. As children, friendship is innocent, and focused around play, children are full of love and are giving without blinking an eye lid. But as we grow older, we lose touch with this state of being, what we seek and expect changes, we want more commitment, more understanding and hold greater expectations. And we have friendship dramas, falling outs, the friendship scape can feel incredibly dynamic, far from the stability we seek.
As a young teen-adult, I was much more emotionally reactive and entitled. Any deviation from what I thought was the construct of a good friend meant I would quickly eliminate and cut off these ties. And at the time, I was genuinely convinced that I was doing the best thing for myself and the other person involved. But the truth is such behaviour only cultivated anger, resentment and hurt.
With time and experiences I have learnt that I was seduced by the appeal of such negativity as a rational response, but truthfully, such a harsh reaction is not always, if ever, necessary. The reality is, not all friendships will last forever, and and that is ok. But when you do meet someone who have a ‘zing’ moment with, you should nourish and feed that connection. I know instantly when I have met someone that I have a soul on soul connection with. The feeling of meeting a like minded woman who I see eye to eye with trumps the feeling of sparks with a romantic interest.
Women are fucking incredible, and good female friendships are unstoppable forces. They are the catalyst for creating the best version of ourselves, and in turn, a better society. I feel truly blessed that the universe allowed my path to cross with women like Sakura, Emily and Sayuri (who are kinda like my little goddess group). These girls helped me grow so much, and recognise what real friendship and the behaviours it should comprise entail.
In these friendships, there is the absolute absence of jealousy, firm loyalty, and the ability to speak our minds fearlessly without being hurtful or judgemental. In these moments sipping tea, or doing our makeup for shoots, everything is raw and real and unfiltered. We laugh, we cry, we gently advise, we openly listen, we support unwaveringly. Life is better when you make genuine connections. When I am around my girlfriends, I feel so in tune with the best version of myself and totally at peace. That might sound cheesy, I mean it definitely sounds cheesy, but it’s the truth. In those moments, I am happier, less isolated, calmer, more creative, more open. Here are a few secrets I think are essential to cultivating strong female friendships like the ones I am fortunate enough to share with these women.
1. Be generous, and I am not talking about gifts
Whilst I love giving gifts, generosity in true friendships needs to extend beyond exxy boxed things. Add value. Organising little get togethers where copious amount of Roiboos tea and ideas can be shared is a sure fire way to strengthen bonds. A lot of my best ideas have come about from my wonderful soul sisters helping me think big and expand my consciousness to a whole new realm. Assist each other, for one of my girlfriends and I it means holding each other accountable to be kinder to our bodies and getting through a Kayla HIIT workout together, we both benefit. Help each other grow. Use each other to dig deeper.
2. Be open to who other people are, don’t judge and cut people slack
Whilst there are some expectations that are important not to overlook, people are different, and we need to accept these differences whole- heartedly. People also have their own priorities and expectations. Being open to these differences is important to creating a non-obstructive environment where people can feel safe to be themselves entirely, pretences aside. Further, there is a phenomena known as ‘fundamental attribution error’ whereby we tend to view other people’s actions as reflections of their character and to overlook the power of situation to influence actions, whereas with ourselves we apply more understanding and recognize the pressures of circumstances. Treat others with the understanding you wish to receive yourself in your most vulnerable of moments. In that vulnerability and raw realness, deep connections and bonds are formed.
3. Don’t gossip, inspire each other to be the best versions of yourself.
I admittedly struggle here. Gossip starts at a young age and pervades dialogue increasingly as we grow. Sadly, we feel unified when we have mutual disdain for others, it’s one of the things that makes us feel closer. I know however after a gossip about someone that I feel not better, but potentially worse and heavier mentally. One of my best friend’s, Sayuri, fights this normality. She is SO good at just emitting positivity as her baseline level of being, and sees the good in others, superficial or character wise. She will be the first to tell you you’re beautiful without hesitation. She is actually a bundle of sunshine when she walks into the room, the first thing to come out of her mouth is something nice about someone she sees. What an incredible state to be in. She doesn’t hold back from being kind. I read about a thing recently called spontaneous trait transference whereby people ascribe to you, the qualities you disdainfully talk about in others. So there is even more motivation not to gossip!
4. Be genuinely happy for one another, be each other’s biggest cheer squad
As I explored in another article, comparison is the thief of joy. We have been hard wired to compete in order to succeed and the truth is this is an absolutely exhausting way of living. But it’s just not true. My girls make me feel like an absolute goddess. Sure, this needs to come from within also but surrounding yourself with women who support and want to see you succeed can allow you to tap into the best version of yourself and be unafraid of your own light and potential. My girls are shouting ‘DAMN MAMI’ behind the camera, commenting affirmations on my blog posts and photos, celebrating little and big work related or spiritual wins with me, and supporting every endeavor big or small. When I see my girls killing it in their respective fields and just in life in general, I am filled with so much happiness for them. It’s such a welcome change to living in a state of insecurity.
5. Practice empathy, let go of expectations
Perhaps the most difficult of the lot, expectations and attachment are the root cause of unhappiness. It’s difficult, we are brought up in a society that practices so much selfishness. We hold ideals about how others, especially our friends should behave, and when people do not act in the ways we want, we become frustrated, angry, annoyed. It’s because our ideals are clashing with the reality and we are so focused on the disparity between the two, and it creates this atmosphere of tension. Sometimes our expectations are too high for anyone, even ourselves to meet. Frustration can also build when we don’t express basic expectations that we need met and assume the other person is aware of these. Love your friends as they are and communicate any discrepancies between reality and any realistic expectations kindly and lovingly and clearly.