by Claudette Gadsden-Hrobak
Recently I attended a forum held to raise awareness of the issues affecting young women of color and the impact these issues have on our community. As an attendee, I was gifted with a book entitled, 101 Things Every Young Woman of Color Should Know by Meshelle. The “thing” that stopped me was #14. It says, “create your own experience with girls and allow it to forge a path to healthy friendships. “ I found myself thinking back to my younger years.
As a teenager, one of my first girlfriends did something that I thought, at the time, was unforgivable. For years, I allowed that thought to color my girlfriend experiences. That coupled with all the talk about the faults of girlfriend relationships, made me slow to form those bonds.
Don’t get me wrong; there have been girlfriends over the years, wonderful women who have blessed me with their presence and their gifts. There have also been many periods and places with no girlfriends. When a dear friend of mine made the transition a couple of years ago, I realized the value of that girlfriend relationship. She was someone that I could really talk with, roll on the floor laughing with and we could stay up all night watching movies. She honored me with her presence and she reminded me of the importance of girlfriends.
A girlfriend, or more, provides the love, space and encouragement needed to know it’s okay to let your hair down. She lets you know when you are being your authentic self and when you are not. With love she tells you that you will not wear that outfit and asks you if you have lost your mind when you talk about doing something that she knows will come back to bite you both. It will bite her because she is your friend and wants only the best for you.
I am now more open to all the girlfriends who honor me with their space and time and the amazing gifts they bring. Girlfriends support and encourage you. They bring other girlfriends, who bring more gifts. They cry with you and laugh with you. They make you feel comfortable in all situations and they are some of your biggest cheerleaders. I could focus on the periods and places when there were no girlfriends but I choose to enjoy the spaces filled with girlfriends.
Be the girlfriend that you are looking for. If you want a girlfriend who is considerate, honest, loyal and loving; you be these things and more. Be open to new relationships. Speak to someone new or someone that you’ve always wanted to get to know better. If there is someone whom you have admired from a distance, tell her. That one act will make two women have a better day.
Enjoy the gift of your girlfriends.