From Childhood Friends to Partners in Crime : An Ode to Female Friendships
I often find myself hearing about a stereotype for the first time and being completely confused by it. Maybe I miss these myths because I don’t watch the same amount of pop culture entertainment as others. A new friend recently told me she was working to show that the stereotype that Black Women don’t support each other isn’t true. I had never heard this stereotype before! Maybe it’s because I’m white (although aren’t we usually the ones coming up with these things?) but it was new to me. I had no trouble believing that this stereotype existed though because there seem to be an endless number of negative myths around Black Women. Most of them are not in any way reflected in my actual interactions with Black Women and some of them contradict themselves (Black Women are both not sexy and too sexy). In the last couple weeks, I’ve come across the wider variation of this myth which is that women in general don’t support each other—they are bitchy, catty, backstabbing, etc. towards one another. This one I had heard before but it seems to be in discussion recently. This is another myth that does not reflect my experiences with other women so I thought I’d lay out some types of female friendships that more accurately reflect my reality.
The childhood friends.
Often brought together by circumstance (same neighborhood, same school, parents are friends), childhood friends share a common background. The girls I played with in my earliest memories have grown into incredible women. In the last five years I have reconnected with two women in particular who were children of my parents' friends. We were thrown together as girls but as women sought each other out. Maybe it is because we had similar upbringings but despite a nearly 20-year gap, when we reunited it felt as easy as breathing to me. Both women had become strong and focused—the kind of women I would choose for myself now. There is a special bond between women who know what each other’s playrooms looked like.
The kindred spirits.
Sometimes women come into your life and know immediately that you will be friends. One of these women once quoted 500 Days of Summer to me, “Just because she likes the same bizzaro crap you do doesn't mean she's your soul mate.” That might be true for romantic relationships but my experience has been that when I find a woman who likes the same bizarro crap as me we are, in fact, soul mates. I tested that theory a few years ago with a new friend who I invited to travel internationally with me for two weeks after learning she liked Shakespeare and Anne of Green Gables. I’m now planning how to embarrass her with my speech at her wedding (don’t worry, she’s already got a defense plan).
Those women who you choose as family. The ones for whom you don’t have to clean the house. The ones who take you into their home and you don’t feel like a guest. The ones your blood family asks about as if they are extended family. I am so lucky as to have two women who might as well be family. I have lived with both of them and they still love me so I think they are forever-friends. One is my daily check in, my emergency contact, the one who rescues me from the intensity of the world. The other is unconditionally supportive, let me talk to her baby through her tummy while she was pregnant (even though she really didn’t like that), and commiserates with me on how hard it is to be healthy as we gobble fro-yo with fifteen toppings.
These are the women with whom you take on the world. My experience is that you find these women at just the right moment. My time in London held one of these moments. The women of Verve found me just as we were all waking up to the possibilities of change. All of our individual experiences had lead us to the time and place that held the most opportunities for us—and we all realized those opportunities were multiplied when we joined forces. Never have I felt so aligned with other women in my world view; never have I depended so completely on collective strength. Even now that I am separated from them by an ocean, I reach out for them to lean on, to problem solve with, and to share my triumphs. And through these relationships I have stopped thinking of these triumphs as mine and started to think of them as ours.
Article by Claire Ryder
VERVE Operative USA & Humanitarian Activist