Behind Every Successful Woman Is a Group of Girlfriends Cheering for Her
Female friendships are essential for confidence and self-esteem
If you're part of a girl gang from school or college, you already know what I mean. Female friendships are like a force of nature. They have the power to change your life. They can impact your mental health, your confidence and your level of grit.
I'm sure you've heard the popular quote by motivation speaker Jim Rohn:
You're the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
I don't know how this works for men. But with women, this fact is heavily skewed by the gender of the people you're spending your time with. Because society has spent centuries telling women that they cannot do the things that men can do. And we have all internalized this stigma either knowingly or unknowingly.
When we see a male friend achieving great things, we're happy for him and also sometimes slightly envious. We sometimes face thoughts like I am just as capable, but my coworkers will never take me as seriously as a man. Or I could do that too if I didn't have a family to take care of.
But when we see a woman achieving great things, we think—If she could pull that off, maybe I could too!
And that thought is probably the most powerful thought we could have.
So for women, it really comes down to this—you're the average of the five women you spend the most time with.
This is why female friendships are extremely important. They will empower and uplift you, and you need to surround yourself with as many girlfriends as you possibly can.
The power of being in a girl gang
Most girl gang WhatsApp groups are filled with a volley of supportive texts, celebratory messages and heart emojis. Sometimes I simply open my groups to read those messages again and fill up on some much-needed positive vibes.
Girlfriends act as personal cheerleaders for each other, even for the smallest things. If I have a bad day at work, I just need to drop a message and I can be guaranteed a flood of supportive texts from my gang. Or I could achieve something tiny like putting up fairy lights in my house. When I send my girls a photo, I can always expect a lot of appreciation and excitement for something as small as that.
In the show Modern Family, when Alex leaves for college, her sister Haley realizes how much she needs her personal cheerleader.
I spent a long time trying to get rid of her until I realized that that little girl, in her own way, put me on a pedestal. It felt great. You just landed in a world of superstars, and I know you'd never admit it, but you're scared. It's not the worst thing to have your own personal cheerleader. I miss mine already.
- Haley to Alex, Season 7 Episode 2
These may seem like small things but they are extremely uplifting when they happen. When we experience these small moments of happiness repeatedly over years, they add up to counteract a lot of the small things that beat us down in other parts of our lives. Supportive messages are like small deposits into the bank of your mental health, keeping funds available despite all the withdrawals that life takes from us every day.
Of course, this can happen with male friendships too. My husband is my #1 cheerleader and I get the same happiness from sharing my life with him. I have maybe one or two guy friends like that, but it's definitely a minority.
And then there are those problems that are unique to women (read sexism), that men will find it very hard to relate to. Unfortunately, these are a large part of our lives, and we need people who can relate to us. These are times when we need empathy, encouragement and empowerment, making female friendships all the more valuable.
There are toxic friendships too, which will leave you with more negativity in your life. It's important to choose friendships that leave you feeling energized and motivated rather than drained and depressed.
How my girl gangs have evolved over time
I am extremely lucky to have an abundance of female friendships in my life. I have a group of girls from college who have been in my life for over ten years now. We've cheered for each other and lifted each other through different phases of life—from assignment deadlines, exams and breakups back in the day to promotions, marriage and parenthood today. I am so proud of what my friends have become. And every achievement of mine is more meaningful when I get to share it with them.
I've been lucky to find new girlfriends as I grow older too. After I got married, I became extremely close to my partner's cousins. They're strong, funny and smart people, and now I have a whole new group of women who empower me every day. Despite being the oldest person in that group, I still feel inspired by them every single day.
Virtual girl gangs are also just as beautiful. I am part of a writing group on Wattpad, where a group of writers across the world share, review and critique each other's writing. At first, I was scared to sign up, fearing harsh criticism. But it has turned out to be a beautiful experience. People go out of the way to point out things that are working well, and they're extremely kind when pointing out room for improvement. My confidence has shot up a great deal since joining that group, and I haven't even met any of them in person!
I intend to form groups like these wherever I go. I'm starting a new job soon, and I'm excited to see what kind of friendships I develop there. Girl gangs are an essential support system for getting through life without crashing and breaking down every other day.
Friendships between women, as any woman will tell you, are built of a thousand small kindnesses like these, swapped back and forth and over again.
- Becoming, Michelle Obama
If you know what I'm talking about, and are lucky enough to have such people in your life, send them this article as a token of gratitude!