On the 4th of February 2017, I met three women who changed my life. When Kristin, Robyn, Thandeka and I met, we were young, naive 18-year-olds who were nervous about starting life in a new place. Our friendship was mostly based on the fact that we lived in the same university residence. But as more time passed, we discovered that we shared similar interests and dreams. And by the end of the year, we were inseparable.
People often told us our group was too big or how we would eventually be divided by dishonesty and betrayal. We proved them wrong by remaining close through our trials and tribulations. Our friendship has even outlasted multiple romantic relationships some of us have had. It was difficult to balance friendship and romance, and yet the friendship triumphed.
Our friendship has survived many career changes. When we all met, there were two journalists, a lawyer, and a psychologist. We now have a graphic designer, a photographer, a writer, and a psychologist. Our friendship remains strong even when we live in different places.
I have always known that I am truly blessed, but 2020 made me more appreciative. Last June, I started questioning my relationship, and the intrusive thoughts about the future with my then significant other started to become overbearing. I lived life constantly on edge and I was consumed with anxiety about the future.
So, I reached out to Robyn, and she made me feel less alone. She talked me through my troubles and helped me come to a final decision. I initiated an honest conversation which eventually led to my ex and me breaking up. When I broke the news to Thandeka and Kristin, they were highly supportive and never condescending or patronizing. We even made jokes about the situation, and this went a long way towards my healing.
Last August, my emotional and mental state was in disarray. I decided to get professional help and started seeing a therapist. Thandeka was the first person I told about my therapy sessions. She was my first choice because she is an aspiring psychologist, and I knew she wouldn’t judge me.
Thandeka went a step further and supported my entire process. She was always there to remind me when it was time for a session, and she’d often enquire about my progress. With her constantly checking up on me, I had no option but to take therapy seriously.
However, even though I made progress in therapy, I still had dark days where the pain seemed never-ending. During these days, Kristin was my ray of sunshine during the storm. She was the reason I got out of bed in the morning. She would visit my room at least three times to make sure I was alright.
She never came empty-handed and gave me a reason to look forward to tomorrow. I got tired of her walking into my messy room, so I started cleaning my room. I got tired of being in bed while she was freshly showered, so I made sure that I’d shower before her visit. Without realizing it, she pulled me out of a depressive cycle.
Kristin, Thandeka, and Robyn are not the only women who showed up for me. My friend Anesu stayed awake with me on some tough days as well. She sent me waffles and ice cream from thousands of kilometers away. Anesu made sure I knew how loved and appreciated I was.
My other friend Nosipho gave me reasons to get out of the house. There were days where all I wanted to do was lay in bed all day and ultimately disappear. However, Nosipho would not let that happen; instead, she always had an adventure for us. She opened her home to me and she invited me to social events. Additionally, my high school best friends Miriam and Ennie provided their silent support and never judged me for floating in and out of their lives.
I had to go through multiple life crises to appreciate how wonderful my friends are. It was in those small moments that I learned about the power of female friendships. I built a small community of women who rallied around me when I needed it the most. These women went out of their way to make sure I was alright.
Despite facing their own challenges and dealing with their own problems, they somehow found time for me too. I already have sisters, so I know what sisterhood feels like, but this form of friendship feels like something else altogether. It feels like the truest form of love.
I am ashamed to admit I have never invested in my friendships the same way I invested in romantic relationships. I went out of my way to make plans with my partner, yet time spent with my friends came more “naturally.” I always knew my partner’s love language, but I never took time to learn how my friends wanted to be loved. It took a mental breakdown for me to realize how much female friendship means to me.
So, I hope that others learn the importance of actively make time for your female friends. I hope girl-friends start taking each other on dates and put in the effort that friendships not only require but deserve. I hope people take the time to thank their friends.
The women in your life deserve to be more than just the shoulder you cry on. They should also be the people you celebrate with.
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