I've been spending a lot of time chatting with my girlfriends lately- I am a sucker for some good girl talk. I'm not talking about gossip, I'm talking about the things that you can only talk about with your girlfriends- relationships, hopes & dreams, insecurities, how we really feel about ourselves- and your close girlfriends are the only ones who you KNOW will be honest with you. They give you the tough love when you need it, or the support an encouragement to get you through a rough time- they're also the best ones to celebrate with when you've got a reason to pop open a bottle of champagne. And because we know our girlfriends so well and vice versa, the conversations we have with them have so much more impact than nearly any other. Let's be honest- if you do not have a girlfriend in your life who has in some way- large or small- shaped the person you are today, then you have missed out on one of life's great joys. Not to be completely cheesy, but I am reminded of the song "For Good" from the musical "Wicked."
I've heard it said that people come into our lives
for a reason,
Bringing something we must learn.
And we are led to those who help us most to grow,
If we let them;
And we help them in return.
Well I don't know if I believe that's true,
But I know I'm who I am today
Because I knew you...
Who can say if I've been changed for the better,
But because I knew you,
I have been changed for good.
Sorry if that was unbearably cheesy, but I actually do believe it's one of the great things of having close friends- the way we help each other grow and learn, not only about life, but about ourselves. In one conversation this week, a friend and I were talking about our issues with our appearance- our insecurities and how we feel the world perceives us as a result of how we look. I used to have terrible, terrible acne and it really bothered me. I thought no one would want to date me or befriend me, and that when people looked at me, all they saw was a bright red face with hideous bumps and lumps. I hated being around people with good skin because I felt like it only heightened others awareness of my terrible skin. When I talk about my bad skin today, people don't really believe me, so let me offer up some hard evidence:
This photograph was taken when I was in college (and still a blonde- my natural hair color). It was a good day- meaning I was not having an all-too-frequent flare-up, otherwise I never would have allowed the picture to be taken. When I look at this picture, even today all I can see is my acne, but what I need to remind myself- and all of you- is that our image issues are exactly that- ours. Did I have fewer close friends because of how I looked? No, I didn't and I'd be silly to think so. Our friends see us in our entirety- they see our face, our personality, they hear our voice- to them, we are more than the sum of our parts. Do I look at my friends and think of them as "the one with acne" or "the tall one"? "The brunette" or "the one with crooked teeth"? No, of course not! I think of them as the people who have been there beside me when I got fired from my job, supporting and encouraging me. I think of them as the people who make me laugh at something silly. I think of them as the people who enjoy eating a package of Oreos with me while watching an episode of Grey's Anatomy or the people who call just to say "Hi." I think of them as these and so many other things. And I know that is also how they think of me. So now, when I get dressed in the morning, do my hair, put on my make-up, choose some accessories, I have two choices. I can focus on the little things about my body or my skin or my hair that bother me and what other people will think and let that determine how I feel about myself and my appearance or I can see myself the way others do- as a complete person who is more than the sum of my parts and I can embrace that. And so that is what I choose to do. And it is because of my friends (particularly my girlfriends) that I am able to choose that path and head out to face the world every day with confidence not only in how I look, but in who I am.