September 28, 2017
“Learn to make friends with other girls.” This sage advice was handed down to me from my mother when I was the ripe age of 11. It was that lovely age where the opposite sex no longer had cooties and my Shirley Temple-esque curls were no longer cute, let alone cool. In catty moments of “she said this,” “I said that,” my mom gently, but firmly sat me down at the kitchen table and reminded me that girls will not be my competition in life.
“Why?” I quipped with all the pre-pubescent attitude I could muster.
“Well, you’re going to need them.”
This is never more true than when entering, rocking, and advancing in the workforce. It is a place that by historical design has been dominated by men and skews in favor toward our male colleagues. Women have unique pain points throughout her career — can you say wage gap, maternity leave, longer life expectancy? And for all of these reasons, it is absolutely integral to have a community of women who will hype you up, cheer you on, and remind you to throw your resume into the pile of applicants when your confidence is wavering.
Just like all the greatest performances, you need to find yourself an enthusiastic, undying supporter who hypes you the heck up! Usually this comes in the form of one particular friend, but if you are lucky, you will have a few. This type of girlfriend is one who leaves ego off stage right and is to her core excited for all of your endeavors. She answers the phone when you’re anxious about a job interview, reminds you that you’re not just cute as hell but brilliant, deserving, valuable, and well, going to get the job, obviously!
The best way to find a hype-woman for yourself? BE ONE! To curb female competition is to forgo the slippery slope of judgment and comparison yourself. Lead by example and you will soon attract the hype-woman every girl needs!
And vulnerability is the elixir for honest growth and taking over the world! Deborah Tannen, Professor of Linguistics at Georgetown University, has written many books on relationships and communication; her most recent book You’re The Only One I Can Tell: Inside The Language Of Women’s Relationships, Tannen explains the complexity that is women’s friendships and that they are the backbone to living happy, fulfilled, understood lives. Granted, friendships can be just as difficult as their more romantic counterparts, but this is exactly her thesis — that true, soulmate-type friendships between women are worth the effort, sometimes heartbreak, and deep connection that one is willing to put into a romantic relation. Why, she argues? Because “having a friend means feeling less alone in the world.”
And being open, honest, and raw with your female friends allows you to grow, develop the self-confidence they see in you, and learn to stand a little taller on your own two feet.
“Friendship between women is different than friendship between men. … It’s my women friends that keep starch in my spine and without them, I don’t know where I would be.” (Jane Fonda)
Since we are talking honesty, let’s get a show of hands of how many of you have had those nights where your brain is spinning and you think you have landed on your million-dollar idea (I swear an app that gives me real-time airport waits is brilliant!) or how exactly you can budget out quitting your job and living on the road for a year. We’ve all been there! And luckily, if you have your hype woman on call you can send her your “brilliant” ideas and she can let you nicely squander your dreams of living your dream year in Bali!
That is one beautiful trait of having a devoted BFF — she won’t let you throw it all away for one bad board meeting or a night of self-doubt. Instead, she will bring you back down, ground you in your real genius, remind you that you are on the right track, and release you back into the wild. The advantage of having your girl in your corner is that she knows how to communicate by being firm and direct, but with compassion and understanding in her voice. So find that voice when the ones in your head grow too loud!
Entering (and staying) in the workforce can be intimidating, but with more strong female leaders and opportunities for women, it is shaping into a place where dreams are made and promotions are earned! So get in there and don’t be afraid to be seen and heard. And in those moments when your voice wavers, lean into your friendships, and let them push you back into the ring!
photography by grow lovely photography