Today I had the pleasure of watching Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin play adorably off of one another in a 15-minute TED talk about sisterhood, friendship, and the science behind close female bonds. Personally, I think that there is no better wisdom than the wisdom that comes from this generation of women. Think about it – any love, loss, emotion, or experience you’ve been through, these women have done it too. Even better, they’ve come out on the other side and probably went through it more than just once. While the video is definitely worth the watch, here are the major takeaways for why female friendships are so important.
“You can tell a lot about a woman, by the company she keeps.”
It is so very true. Naturally, we’re attracted to people who are similar to us. Similar interests, political beliefs, core values, and even eating and fitness habits. And if a person has a great group of girlfriends, you can usually agree that there must be something great about that woman too – even if you’re not personally her biggest fan. But what’s most important about this message is best quoted by Jane Fonda, “They make me stronger, they make me smarter, they make me braver…” The best friendship isn’t always peaceful. Instead, most genuine relationships involve women who are honest and open with each other which often times will cause a little bit on conflict. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been furious with my closest friends. Yet, there are times when I can’t deny that some of the traits about them that drive me nuts I also admire. For example, I have one friend who is extremely charismatic, bold, and ambitious. She’s also the type of person who tends to feel a bit entitled. As you can imagine, that can easily be construed as a negative trait. The flip side of this, however, is because she is so confident in herself and is so willing to ask for what she wants, she’s one of the most tenacious professionals I know. She’s not afraid to ask for a raise or other perks that I would be too timid to think of demanding. Moral of the story? Friends are great. But friends who you admire? Even better.
“I look for someone…who thinks I’m worthwhile.”
I think women – and young women in particular – lose sight of this message all too often and all too easily. And this occurs both in romantic relationships and platonic friendships. You should never feel like you’re not good enough in your friendship. You also shouldn’t feel like someone isn’t treating you like you’re worth their time. This is definitely a skill that needs to be learned, but friendships can’t be one-sided. You both have to make an effort to be in each other’s lives during the good and the bad. Just as important as feeling that you are valued, is making sure that you show your appreciation in your friendships too. Are you making your friends feel valued and important? Expressing this is different for everyone. I have friends that are all about showing physical or verbal affection. I’m not quite the same, but I express it in other ways. They always get a personal card from me on Valentine’s Day, Christmas, and birthdays. Or, if I know someone is having a crappy day, I make an effort to check up on them. Whatever your love language is, just make sure you’re not forgetting to use it!
“I have my friends, therefore I am.”
This was arguably one of the most beautiful quotes I’ve ever heard about friendship. Like so many others, I used to associate soulmates with romance. But as I’ve gotten older and have been through my share of breakups and loss of friendship, I come to associate that phrase more closely with the women in my life. There are days where I have more chemistry with friends than I could ever have with any man. There are also days where I’ve ached for them as I watched them go through their own breakups and loss, almost as if it were my own. I’ve seen a lot of people talk about regrets they’ve had about putting too much time, energy, and dependence on someone they were dating. But I’ve never heard someone regret pouring time into a great friendship. And the better your relationships are with these women around you, the more in tune with yourself you feel.
So what’s the point? Well, as these ladies keep reminding us…women tend to live a tad longer than men. And with good friendships, add an extra five years to that! But be conscious of continuing to foster and appreciate those friendships. Because whether you need those friends now or way down the line once you’re a widow…you’re going to need them.