That’s not friendship, that’s fantasy. Maybe even, f@cked up.
Many girls and young women struggle with friendship.
I have the advantage of knowing the side of many of you that you’re not ready to expose to your peers. I know the vulnerable you, the real you, the one that’s super-likable. From my perspective, I can’t fathom why you’re not close friends with everyone on the planet. To me, there’s nothing about you that’s not to like.
There’s one of two reasons you’re experiencing conflict with girls your own age.
It may be that you’re not connecting in a meaningful way with your peers, cause you’re playing it safe and only allowing them to know the version of you that you’ve concocted (e.g., made up!), and that version is not as likeable as the real you (duh).
Or, maybe there’s absolutely nothing unlikable about you and the problem is that the people you’re attempting to connect with are going through their own developmental stuff and it’s making them act like inconsistent jerks.
Girls are reported to experience more conflict in friendships than boys. There are many theories as to why this is the case. To me, one of the major problems is that girls don’t have realistic models of same-sex friendship. The same way that Hollywood gets intimate relationships all wrong and contributes to our divorce culture, Hollywood gets female friendships wrong, too.
Think about it—we, girls and women, see two models of friendship—the frenemy/mean girl or the romanticized BFF. Both are unrealistic and mess with girls’ mental representations of what to expect from themselves and others in friendships.
I’m here to set the record straight.
Friendships are mirrors, they offer us the opportunity to see ourselves through the eyes of others.
When others see our strengths, they get stronger. When others help reveal our weaknesses, it gives us the chance to work on them. When others convey perceived weaknesses in us that really have nothing to do with us and instead, have to do with their own issues, we’ve gotta have the tools to see it, call bullshit and move forward.
To me # 3 is the toughest, so that’s our focus here.
The only way for us to call bullshit when others project their own problems onto us, is for us to be confident in how we relate to others.
What I’ve learned is that the only way to do that is to get pretty good at four things: honesty, accountability, responsibility and integrity.
Honesty is being true to yourself and truthful with others regardless of the consequences.
I’ve definitely gone through periods when I’d shade the truth in an effort to be liked. It’s never worth it.
The key: Say what you mean, mean what you say and never say it mean. How people respond to the truth is not your problem.
Accountability is always doing what you say you’re going to do. If you’re not sure you’re going to show up, don’t indicate you will.
I remember the days when I hated disappointing people. If someone asked me to go to lunch on Tuesday, I’d immediately say, “Yes!! Call me.” Then, when I couldn’t or didn’t want to go, I’d avoid the call. It made me feel icky, but not as icky as saying a hard, “No!” in the moment.
What I’ve learned is that it feels much better to be respected than it does to be liked. People respect you when your word means something. Make your word mean something.
Responsibility is defined as the ability to respond and not react to your environment. That means that you respond to people and situations from the inside-out, rather than the outside-in.
Our goal is to never change dependent on what’s going on around us—reacting emotionally. We always want to respond with balance.
To do that, we can’t take other people’s shit personally and we must always stay true to our inner compass.
Finally, Integrity is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking. When we live right, we feel right.
Do the just thing for yourself, not for acceptance from others.
If it’s not there now, #DoThisThing and get your character on track by working on these four areas. When you’ve got you, life gets a little bit easier.
If people want to be your friend—bonus! If they’re not that into you at the moment, you can rest assured, it’s their shit to deal with.
Art by Adrianna Kinal.