I grew up around boys.
Between eight and eleven years my senior, my relationship with my three cousins shaped how I learned to relate to people. I spent my entire childhood, adolescence, and even part of my adulthood trying to prove that I could hang with the guys.
Perhaps you've heard one of these before:
"I can't stand females."
"I have mainly guy friends."
"Girls are too much drama."
My husband once summed this phenomenon up with a simple declaration:
Girls Hate Girls.
Girls Hate Girls.
The first time he made this utterly sexist remark I was offended. I don't hate people! Slowly, though, that simple observation began to sink in and I recognized the truth in it. Far more complicated than jealousy, I believe girls and women expect such perfection from their own selves that they will ultimately dislike other women for surpassing or falling short of their own impossible expectations. I believe girls may gravitate towards male friendships because the expectation is different; it is based on achievable things like how fast you run a mile or how much you can drink. (For the record, those are both areas in which I've nearly killed myself trying to keep up with a man.)
What I am discovering now that I am "growing up" (I use that phrase loosely) is the joy and the importance of female friendships.
Perhaps I have come to a point in my life where I am satisfied with who I am and, therefore, I can appreciate other women for who they are. I no longer feel the need to prove that I can hang with the guys. I can hang with the girls!
I have friends who are smarter, more crafty, prettier, more ambitious, more accomplished, fitter, and more spiritual than me. Sometime in the past three years I've started to admire these traits rather than dislike them. In the same three years I have developed some of the dearest friendships I have ever enjoyed. Even meeting new women acquaintances is more rewarding, now!
This may not be news to some girls out there. I know many women who have girlfriends they've known since childhood! How awesome! It's too bad it has taken me so long to figure this out, but now that I have I am enjoying making up for lost time.
To my girlfriends: I am inspired by you and I love you. I truly do.