I didn’t have many friends when I was growing up. I probably didn’t feel the need to put myself out there and build relationships other than the ones I already had. I had three elder sisters, and we were very close. Sisters (most of the time) tend to become your first close friends. But, I won’t dismiss the fact that my pre-teen personality was awkward. I didn’t thrive in social settings. My books and my family were my whole world. So, I guess not having too many friends was a combination of the two reasons. Then suddenly, I blossomed into this social bee, buzzing around with infectious enthusiasm.
In my early 20s I built some strong, inspiring female friendships that have endured life’s weathering process. My friends have played a very important role in my life and, in some way, shaped the person I am today. I’ve had some wonderful male friendships as well, and they were sometimes more easy going ones too, but I can’t deny the fact that it has always been my girls who’ve kept me grounded. The truth is there are some topics men are uncomfortable talking about or deem unimportant. I’m a woman’s woman on that front. We’ve loved, cried, ranted, partied, fought, envied, counselled, drifted apart, and loved again… we’ve experienced it all, and I think that is what has made our bond stronger.
My girlfriends know the right pick-me-up when I’m down in the dumps, they know when to ignore my high-pitched whining or when it’s time to bring out the mojitos and celebrate. They were there when I had my first heartbreak, and the second, and the third… when I fumed about how I just needed an evening out with a stiff drink to get through a hectic work week, when I said my ‘I do’s, when I floundered around as a clueless mother in breast-milk soaked bras, right through my journey as a stay-at-home mom to changing career lanes.
Like most women, my girlfriends fall into three categories: college, work and mommy friends. Now, while the mommy category is the newest set of friends they as valued as the ones I made 18 years ago. They are the ones who build me up each time I doubt my parenting skills. Motherhood is a new season of life for me, and my heart swells with pride every time I think about these women who’ve stood by me.
True friendship is not about remembering anniversaries or meeting up every alternate Tuesday (although I must confess I’d love that… great for those who manage both). It’s more about being there when it matters the most. True girlfriends never make you feel insecure. They never keep the truth from you, yes they may glaze it up a bit to render a softer blow, but they’ll muster up the courage to share that bitter piece with you. We women belong to the same tribe. I can confidently say I am a better version of myself thanks to these wonderful women who’ve surrounded me.
Expat life and motherhood have made my belief in the concept of seasons of friendship even stronger. Everyone comes into your life for a reason, and when their time is up, they leave. That doesn’t mean you can’t smile back at the beautiful memories created during your time together. Not every friendship has to last a lifetime. If you’ve been blessed with the gift of friendship, remember to nurture it, cherish it, and be thankful for it, because a person who has experienced true friendship is always a better person because of it!
Read Donna Dias Manuel’s Love is Never Easy here.