This past weekend I was reminded about the importance of friendship. My friends and I gathered to celebrate the marriage of one of our own. We came together from far and wide, alongside others from different parts of her lives, and it was beautiful. Seeing all these different women, some of who I was already friends with, others who I hadn’t seen for a couple of years, and the rest who I was meeting for the first time showed me the beauty of female friendships.
Growing up in an all-female environment, both at home and school, I knew the significance of having a strong female support system, whether it be in the form of my mother and sisters or my friends. With the way society constantly pits women against each other to further fuel the stereotypes of cattiness and bitchiness between us, it can be difficult to think that female friendships can be filled with anything but petty arguments, jealousy and competition.
Yes, I have had my fair share of spats, fallouts and arguments with my girlfriends whilst growing up, but now in my late twenties and a much more mature version of myself, my female friendships are what keep me going. Whether it be reliving our times at university, treating ourselves to a girls weekend away, or the “how are you?” text my best friend sends me when she hasn’t heard from me in a while, my female friendships are what have got me through some of the more challenging moments in my life, as well as being a source of constant laughter, encouragement, moral and emotional support.
This wasn’t always necessarily the case, so when I didn’t have my own support system to turn to, there were always female friendships that I was able to watch on TV and see how women should be there for one another. Along the way they influenced the way I look at the bond between women and helped shape the idea of what I should and shouldn’t accept in a friendship.
These days I no longer have to turn to television to know what it’s like to experience true friendship. I’m blessed to have found my tribe and to have formed my own little community that I can both trust and support me. As a child and teenager, my friendships were mostly formed around my educational settings. I navigated to people that I shared common interests with, seemed like nice people and that I could have a good laugh with. But as the years went by, it became evident that I needed more from my friendships. I wanted friends who I had a shared cultural and religious background with. I wanted people around me that understand the nuances of what it was like growing up as a Black, Muslim girl in the UK. I also wanted people who I could ultimately be my true self around. I wanted a sisterhood, women around me that would become an extension of my family. And thankfully, now I’ve found that.
Female friendships can be one of the strongest human bonds we have. I’m sure many of us women have joked with our friends that it’s as if we’re in a relationship given how intense our friendships can be. But it’s the love, loyalty and the value we hold for one another that can lead to this feeling. As women, being surrounded by strong female energy can be great in helping maintain our happiness and sanity. Women hold so many titles – mother, sister, wife, friend, and that of whatever job we’re doing – that the support of our sisters, who we also have a shared understanding with, is important in uplifting and empowering us when we feel we can’t fulfil each role to the best of our ability. We live in a world that tends to divide women, but that doesn’t always have to be our narrative. But there is a power when women come together in strong support of one another and the world could do with a bit more love anyway.