Fresh Perspective | The importance of female friendships

Fresh Perspective is a biweekly blog about typical college experiences made strange by the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Julia Smeltzer, Senior Staff Writer

I always struggled to form genuine friendships growing up. I would find myself in a friend group with other girls, but I always felt like I was on the outside looking in. Girls I thought were my friends intentionally excluded, bullied and judged me in my early teenage years. In the eighth grade, I would beg my mom to let me stay home from school, blaming a stomachache one day or a fever the next. She soon came to realize that those excuses were hiding the fact that I was in a toxic and hurtful situation with my “friends,” and would rather stay in my bed instead of going to school.

Being a young teenage girl is hard. In school, you try to define your social status and find your “clique.” You want to fit in with the other girls while you’re riddled with that awkward stage which includes puberty, periods, botched haircuts, braces, and more. And as a young teenage girl trying to figure out your place in the world, having positive friendships with other girls is essential, but it was something I didn’t have at that age which was hard to deal with. Was I not good enough? Was I not popular enough? Was something wrong with me? Those are all questions that I would ask myself every day.

Don’t get me wrong, I did have a couple of core friends I grew up with who treated me the way I deserved to be treated. We went through the awkward stages of our teenage years together, they included me in all of the plans and they made me feel loved and like I belonged. They never made me question my value. They are still my best friends to this day.

I was nervous about coming to college and leaving those friends behind. I was worried that it would feel like eighth grade all over again and that I wouldn’t find a group of girls that I could call my best friends. At first, it was a little nerve-wracking trying to make friends. I was trying to impress everyone I met, but I was also trying to be myself at the same time.

It wasn’t long until I found girls that I knew would become my best friends. We would spend our days in between our Zoom classes hanging out with each other. Multiple nights a week we would all gather in whoever had the biggest room to watch movies, play games, share stories, get dinner together and more. I had found a group of girls that made me feel like I could unapologetically be myself, and I didn’t have to pretend to be someone I’m not in order to feel accepted and loved. Flash forward to two years later, and some of them are now my roommates.

The bond I have with my three roommates is something I never thought I would experience before. We spend every day together, either hanging out in our living room or watching the same handful of movies we love. We could spend hours just sitting on the floor of someone’s room just laughing and talking about anything and everything. When we go out, we help each other pick outfits and ask each other what we should do with our hair. When it’s someone’s birthday, we decorate the house with balloons and decorations to let them know they are celebrated and loved. We motivate each other to take care of ourselves and we always end our days with a “Goodnight, I love you.”

I don’t know what I would do without them.

Like any normal friendship, there are ups and downs. I would be lying if I said there weren’t times in my friend group when we go through a rough patch. However, the bond and love we share for one another always get us through, no matter what.

What I’ve learned from the group of girls I call my best friends is that I am valued in my friendships. They make me feel loved and heard. They accept all the weird, sad, anxious, and goofy sides of me and never make me feel like I have to change in order to be accepted. They also taught me that my eighth-grade self, who was constantly left out and bullied, deserved to have loving and meaningful friendships and that I’m valuable.

Not everything is sunshine and rainbows all of the time, but I will forever be grateful for the friends I have in my life now, and I hope they stay around for a long time.