I’ve mentioned before a certain 14-year-old friend of mine whom I’ve known for forever. She’s clever, beautiful, and fun, and of course she’s miserable. That’s because from roughly ages 11–16, everyone is more or less miserable. Pre-teen and teen years are just awful, especially for clever, beautiful girls. When this certain 14-year-old friend of mine tells me about her problems with friends I want to say, “It gets better. There will come a time in your life when all the women you meet will stay loyal and true and not sacrifice everything you two have for a boy.” But how true would that be if I told her that?
A few weeks ago I went to a party with a boy I’m seeing. For a while I was the only girl there, surrounded by boys in their 20s. Finally, a lovely Russian girl enters and we eye each other warily. It is a natural instinct. Will she be as friendly and as kind as I’ve been told by the boys? Or will she just appear to be so and actually be a mean little thing? It turned out she was great, and we ended up discussing this very subject: how girls can be so cruel to each other, so competitive, and that even now in our 20s, it is hard to tell when meeting a new girl if she’s nice or if she’s out for blood.
I hold on tightly to my friends. I’ve been guilty in the past of sacrificing girlfriends for boys or even for other girlfriends who at the time seemed better or cooler than my original friend. Despite the confidence I’ve gained since graduating middle school, high school, and college, I am still insecure when a girl at a party gives me a look that says “Get out of here” or starts grinding on a guy I was talking to. My reaction is a little different now – I don’t run to the bathroom crying – but it still bothers me.
I’m positive this competitiveness has a lot to do with the fact that some women (or at least those who tear down other women) are validated by the attention they receive from men and that our society encourages this. Often times teenage girls will out of the blue make a comment about needing a boyfriend. Not wanting, but needing. And no matter what is said, this need will not be satisfied until said boyfriend materializes. But how can we blame them for this? I know I was exactly the same way when I was a teenager. And it took having several boyfriends for me to realize that the hole in my existence was not going to be filled by a 16-year-old telling me “I love you, Sophia.”
I think we all have little gaps in our souls, but we ourselves need to fill them. We validate our own existence. But honestly, if there ever was a person who filled that gap for me, it was the amazing, clever, beautiful and fun female friends who have stayed by my side, been loyal to me, and not sacrificed our friendship for a guy. These female friends are more precious to me than any boy or man I have ever been with. Because relationships come and go, they change you, help you build what you want out of love. But the truest form of love more often comes from the girls who sit with you through all of that. Who have seen you at your worse but despite this, love you for exactly who and what you are.
If only I had realized this when I was 14.