an essay on girlfriends.

it is scientifically proven that people with stronger and meaningful connections to others are happier, and people that do not have those connections are unhappier and they long for those connections. so it's no surprise that the big, fat secret to being happy and having a full life is to have good relationships - with your husband, your family, but also... YOUR GIRLS !!!!

quick back story: when i graduated from high school and moved away for my freshman year of college, i was still very much lost as to who i was. i had low self esteem and false direction and i felt like i was constantly having to convince others, as well as myself, that i was worthy and good. in every sense, i was a drifting soul. the end of my freshman year, i became friends with a group of girls who, essentially, changed my life. they were so kind to me and we had so much fun together. they believed in me and celebrated my victories. they made me feel like i was worthy and for the first time in my life, i could stop trying to convince everyone of that fact.

it sounds a little melodramatic, but they saved me from myself. they put ground underneath my feet and gave my life an upward direction. i feel wildly undeserving of these friends, but they paved the way for me! because of them, i desire to be that kind of friend to girls around me and i desire to HAVE those kind of influences in my life, everywhere we go - since my original girls are scattered throughout the US.

this is a subject i am feel very strongly about and will evangelize for until the day i die. girlfriends, to this day, are the meat of my life - they make my life so full, they keep me grounded and sane, they make my life SO FUN. so let's talk about this for a few minutes.

my husband is obviously my number one priority. he is my life and he always will be - but trailing closely behind are my girlfriends, for MANY reasons. here's a few reasons why having a "girl gang" is so important:

1. girls can relate to each other on a level that you can't with male counterparts. (not deeper, just different!)

2. you can talk freely about things that would bore/annoy/confuse your husband or boyfriend.
3. the more love you give, the more you have to give. the more loyalty you feel to others, the more you feel in return. friendship has the power to increase the quality of our lives in such a significant way. tapping into that is so important!

4. girlfriends boost you up. sometimes you just need to hear that you are such a patient person, or that your top is SO cute, or that you have been working really hard and need a break. and the opportunity to GIVE that to people boosts you, too.

5. shopping partners, duh.

6. for my married gals - having girlfriends helps keeps you balanced. it's easy to just disappear into husband-land, but being friends with many people helps me be a better friend and companion to jordan. and tbh, if you don't have good girlfriends - that's a lot of pressure on your husband to fulfill every friendship need that you have. spread the love, it's healthy.

7. we need the support of an army of women. (warning - soapbox.) we all NEED each other and i wish more girls saw it that way! i really feel like we are responsible for taking each other under our wings, helping each other out, and sticking up for each other. in a world where our gender is under attack and it can be really difficult to be a navigate what "woman" means to you, we need to be encouraging each other and NEVER tearing each other down. i believe that women are naturally more inclined to be nurturers - to our children, to our husbands, but also to each other. i take the term "sisterhood" very seriously - we are all sisters and we should treat each other as such!! there is SO MUCH power in female friendship - you take power from each other & you create power by bonding together.

beyond the obligation to take care of each other, there is this simple truth -  having girlfriends is just such a JOY! friends to go dancing with! friends to have sleepovers with! friends to scream about cute baby animals and pretty shoes with! friends who will listen when you talk for 15 minutes straight! gym buddies, brunch buddies, romcom buddies, funny snapchat stories, people you can cry in front of when you have a hard day. it's all just so good.

--- my girlfriends have seen me through different stages of life and many hardships & they take care of me in a way that nobody else can. (i am lucky to be married now, but they talked me through soooo many breakups too. bless them!)

we all need girlfriends who will sympathize when you're struggling to balance home and work, who will hear you out when another girl hurts your feelings but encourage you to forgive her anyway, who will open our eyes to different ways of life and trains of thought.

the bottom line is this - there is just no substitute for strong female characters in your life. 

aaand now few things that i have learned while navigating the world of girlfriendships:

+ you can relate to a lot more people than you think you can. i have met ladies at church who are a decade older than me, with several kids, & who's personality is polar opposite of mine. and to my surprise, we connect on a deep level and they add so much value to my life! never rule anybody out because you think they are not your "type." every woman can enrich your life. ("different people, different blessings" is one of my favorite quotes.)

+ show up for the people that show up for you. unfortunately, not all girlfriends are created equal. some will be super flakey (no excuses for a flakey friend, i don't care how busy you are. we are all busy!) some will back bite and compete with you, some will gossip about you, some will leave you out to try and form high school esque "clicks", some will turn on you when problems arise. forgive and forget and always have faith in people - but invest your time in people who treat you like you treat them. the payoff is much higher.

+ try to listen way more than you talk. i can run my mouth like NOBODY'S business and although it's so important to feel heard - i have found myself appreciating and loving girlfriends more deeply when i listen to them a lot. fulfilling that need for people is very sacred.

+ and lastly, be the instigator. there have been times in my life where i feel lonely and unhappy with my friend situation. this stinks...but take the reins! organize a lunch date or a movie night and reach out to acquaintances. seek out friendships and they will start coming to you - it's the law of reciprocity. be a good friend to people and it will start coming back your way.  sometimes good friends happen upon you, but a lot of times you go out and find them yourself.

i am so grateful for the "collection" of girls that i have picked up in my 26 years. they inspire me and make my life sparkle. now if you've made it to the end of this novel - good for you! now go make some more friends and call the ones you already have!