Let’s be honest: it’s been a tough year for women. Not to say there haven’t been bright spots (from the Women’s March to the incoming Congressional class), but I will confess that between the Kavanaugh hearings to the newest data from Lean In and McKinsey, it’s sometimes hard to feel the progress that so many women (and men) have been fighting for for years.
We’ve all explained #metoo more times than we can count, been asked to recount our own experiences of harassment to validate others, and oh by the way, received a clear message on how many Americans value women with the election and continued support of our President.
But I digress. Because the bright spot in what has been a long year comes back to a long-standing tradition of sisterhood: the girl gang, squad, coven, crew, or whatever you call the group of women in your life you call on when things get messy. You see, all the media coverage of the camaraderie between the new female members of Congress is fantastic, but really it confirms something that women have long known — that the best defense against a bad meeting, bad day, bad week, or bad experience often lies in the strength and support of other women.
The power of these networks is not just emotional. Look no further than the massive popularity of The Riveter and the Wing to see that women are not only interested in convening, but willing, interested, and empowered to do so in meaningful and intentional ways. In addition to economic power, groups of women have been pivotal in raising money for female candidates and encouraging women to run for office.
But this particular piece isn’t about politics or economics. It’s about friendships. Good old-fashioned, time-tested, complicated female friendships. Audre Lorde once said “caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” I love the idea that caring for yourself is not just good for the soul, it’s good for the world and for long-term equality, because it helps women think of themselves as a powerful asset with remarkable value, a message that can often be drowned out with all the negative messages from the year behind us.
This fall, I went away with some girlfriends for a little getaway in New York, and over wine and a fire, we did something very simple: we talked about what we admire most about the person next to us and our biggest hope for them in the year to come. Not surprisingly, there were some tears, a lot of laughs, and lot of mutual admiration shared at that table. So as the New Year approaches, I find myself thinking about the renewing force that is female friendship. As a result, I’m trying to be really intentional this holiday season about connecting, reconnecting, and thanking my girlfriends.
The ones who are trying to “do it all.” And the ones who aren’t.
The ones who are moms for the first time this holiday season. The ones who wish they were and are silently navigating that too.
The ones who encourage you to think, dream, and do big things. The ones who pick you up when those big dreams don’t always work out.
The ones who remember every milestone day in your life and the ones who don’t, but you know they are thinking of you any way.
The ones you talk to weekly and the ones you’ve lost touch with.
The ones who send perfect holiday cards, and the ones who resent people who do.
The ones who always bring the party, and the ones who always seem to stay after to help clean up.
The ones who always send you a little boost when you need it, and the ones who never ask, but who you know need it most.
Everyone needs a Molly to their Issa and an Amy to their Tina. And while I’ve always valued female friendships and felt grateful for the women in my life, this year I find myself particularly drawn to follow the advice of Robyn and the famous podcast: call your girlfriend(s).