The Power of Female Friendship

Almost 10 years ago, in the summer of 2008, a girl messaged me on AOL instant messenger. Her name was Laura. She told me that her and I had been assigned as roommates for our upcoming freshman year of college at The College of New Jersey. All that I can remember from that first conversation was her talking about being a cheerleader, having a leading role in the musical Cats, and that she would be a voice major that upcoming fall. She seemed nice but I had no idea what I was getting myself into. We were so young and naive at the time but that was the beauty of it. And when we finally met on freshmen move-in day in August 2008, I learned very quickly how special Laura truly was and how lucky I was to be her roommate. 

The first year of college was an actual whirlwind. I don't remember a lot of the details but I do remember that meeting Laura was, and still is, the most impactful and transformative friendship I've ever had. I truly believe that people come into our lives at certain seasons for a reason. Some of them are temporary and some of them are long term, but each relationship has a purpose. Each person we encounter is placed into our lives at a particular moment in time so that their presence can challenge us, teach us, benefit us, or change us. Over the course of ten years, my friendship with Laura has outlasted the various seasons of ups, downs, and in betweens. 

Whenever I reflect on our friendship, I know that it originally worked for us because we both really needed each other. I think I can speak for both of us when I say that we struggled with friendships up until that point. Sure, I had friends in high school but they often didn't feel complete. It always felt like something was missing. I would look at teenage friendships on TV or even in my own school and I always wanted they had. I wanted a friend that was more like a sister - someone I could spill my guts to without judgement, someone to do everything with, and someone so similar to me that we just "got" each other without having to say anything. Upon moving to college, I had a boyfriend back home that I was sickeningly obsessed with to the point that I pretty much stopped talking to my girl friends because I only wanted to spend time with him. I continuously chose him over my friends. It wasn't that I didn't want friends, because not having them eventually became a sore spot for me. With each passing month of dating him, I became more self-conscious and insecure about who I was and where I was going. So I'm sure you can assume how lost I was when I got to college. Laura filled the void I didn't know needed to be filled at the time. She encouraged me, she supported me, she sat beside me, and most importantly, she genuinely liked me enough to be my friend. I know that sounds silly, but it's everything I needed at the time. I remember a late night conversation between her and I in the fall of our freshman year when I opened up to her about my struggle with my mixed race identity. She was the first person I ever talked to about that out loud and I wasn't sure if she would even understand. I'm not sure she did understand at the time, but I do know that she listened and I felt relief and validation because I knew she heard me and loved me anyway. 

Laura was more than just my best friend throughout out my college years. It's difficult to explain in words the way you feel when you've met the friend equivalent of your soulmate but in any case, that's what she was (and is). She was right there with me for some of the hardest times in my life and I was there for her at her difficult times as well. We allowed each other to see the most vulnerable and broken parts of ourselves. She stuck by me even when my depressive brain tried to push her away and I stayed by her when she cried almost every single day from a break up. My friendship with Laura was the first real friendship I ever had. It taught me that friendship isn't always easy, but the effect it has on your heart is always worth it. Our friendship has certainly not been perfect. In fact, we kind of struggled after college and even went a year without speaking. However, it's taught me that friendships reflect the ebb and flow of your life. How can we expect them to stay the same when we're not the same? We change, mature, and adapt over time and in turn, so must our friendships. Some of them don't last and that's perfectly okay. Sometimes we need to say goodbye so that we can spread our wings and embark on a new journey. But for me, I'm eternally grateful that Laura and I are still choosing each other after all this time. 

Female friendships are so uniquely special. It's something you can only understand when you're in it and it's difficult to explain to an outside observer. Society tells women to place ultimate value on romantic relationships. While that is something that's innate in our human desires, female friendships have the power to connect & transform in a way that a significant other may never access. There is a spark of solidarity between all women that only gets stronger as the friendship grows. It's something we all yearn for and no matter how many people we date or much time we spend with our family, a true female bestie is incomparable. You all know that I love my boyfriend to pieces but my female friendships fill a part of heart that cannot be tapped into from a romantic relationship. Female friendships validate us, strengthen us, and empower us to be anything we want to be. Seeing our girlfriends succeed is one of the greatest joys. There's nothing better than being understood, and that's what female friendship is all about. 

To my Laura,
I am so lucky to know you. Thank you for 10 years of the most incredible friendship I've ever had. I'm so inspired by the commitment and dedication you give to everything you do. It's truly been amazing to watch you grow into the professional, beautiful, and empowered woman you are today. I am so proud of everything you've accomplished and my heart beams with happiness just thinking about all of the phenomenal things coming your way. I can't wait to stand by your side on your wedding day in a few short months. Love you!