The day after my first proper breakup, my best friend Louisa came to my house with a bouquet of flowers, the kind wrapped in brown paper with florists’ instructions and a hand-crafted arrangement. It was the first time anyone had brought me flowers that weren’t from Tesco, and while the details of the breakup seem unimportant to me now, the sweetness of her gesture has very much stayed with me. The kindness of female friendship is something which has shaped me as a person throughout my life, and I don’t just mean in terms of buying flowers.
Being a teenager is hard, the expression “hell is a teenage girl” rattles around my head as I complete my everyday tasks. While I don’t think you could pay me to be a 13-year-old again, there is still a fondness in me for the friendships I had then, and the way in which we interacted with the world. When I was fourteen, me and my two best friends stole my older sister’s vanilla vodka, and took turns holding our noses and pouring it into each other’s mouths before a party; we hadn’t figured out chasers were a thing yet. The night ended in the three of us throwing up in separate bathrooms and being carried home, it felt exactly like what I imagined being a teenager was supposed to be. While it’s not a life lesson I’d particularly like to repeat, I remember it felt like it was one we learned together.
The feeling of being “in it together” is not unique to my female friendships, but I think women do have a different perspective. When I imagine explaining how my gender makes me feel like a constant side character in a male narrative, I know my male friends would be supportive and sweet, but I know my female friends would feel my anger and relate to my experience. It’s not just sexism though, it’s fashion and makeup and hair; everything that is traditionally synonymous with femininity. It’s understanding which top goes with which skirt and being able to borrow a better option from them. Most importantly, it’s understanding that even in our cute mini skirts and fake lashes, we have intellectual opinions and are able to share those.
My life without the women around me, friends, my sister, my mum, would feel so black and white. The way in which they support each other and me, without ever expecting anything in return, is a constant source of warmth and inspiration, which I remain thankful for every day. I can’t wait for us to continue writing each other letters, braiding each other’s hair and doing the most outrageously feminine activities together.