A woman’s best friends are her best friends. I hear, ‘women are their own worst enemies’ a lot and this may be true but when it comes to genuine friendships this statement holds no water.
‘Frenemies’ has become a common term in recent years; people that are your friends but are just waiting for you to slip up so they can jump on your carcass.
I am also not referring to Facebook/social media ‘besties’. Women you have never met (or you have met) and you’ve bonded over shared experiences or interests or you share common dislike for certain other people and so they form the bulk of your Voltrons and will attack anyone that ‘comes’ for you.
I am not saying real friendships cannot be formed on social media (topic for another day).
As a tomboy growing up, most of my friends were boys. I had the token female friends but it was mostly because we were thrown together either by the fact that there were only three girls in my class (primary school), we were part of a larger group (secondary school) or I needed someone to borrow novels from.
It was in the university that I first understood and felt the bond of female friendship. It was also around the same time I accepted my breasts weren’t going to desiccate and fall off. This was it, I was a woman.
My first friend was Ifeyinwa. Totally different backgrounds, but we needed each other on some level. Her room was my refuge. When I got tired of my flat-full of boys, I’d run to her hostel and we’d just chill, sometimes talking, sometimes not. It was a different relationship from what I was used to. With my guy friends, I usually didn’t have to say much. It was all facts: it happened like this and like this and like this. With Ify, we would describe facial expressions, dig deep for motivations and arrive back where we started; the fun was in the analysis.
Then there was Ugo and Basilia, one my roommate, one my neighbour. You would always find us together. Do not underestimate the importance of being nude/near-nude and carrying on conversations like no man’s business. It was a sisterhood. We were there for each other, we understood each other. All it took was a look. You see that look that mothers use? It begins with female friends (I know, I know, some of you have the same with your male friends, move on).
And so on it went on. Over the years in some of my darkest and happiest times, through depression and triumphs, there has been that woman that I can run to and she’d enfold me in warmth and love, even from miles away. There is that woman that will look at a guy I’m considering dating (and have misgivings about but, love) and ask me if I’m alright. There is that woman who will take my side all the time, even when taking my side also means saying, ‘you messed up, you were wrong’.
Being a woman is more than biology, it’s more than society shoving it down your throat. It is strength, internal and external: strength you draw from the women you surround yourself with.
I read stories of friendships that end in betrayals and backstabbing but it does not take away my faith in the female friendship. There are so many things that only another woman understands. And even though time passes and some friendships fade, you are left with little pieces of those women that helped shaped you.
As I get older and become more aware of the process of making friends, I find that I gravitate towards women more. After that moment of ‘oh my God, you too?’ there’s the recognition: this is someone who is on the same journey as I am. The journey of becoming.
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