This Friendship Day, I’m reflecting on the lessons that my sisterhood of friends — who’ve always reflected the best versions of me through the years — have taught me.
I still remember the nervous excitement that Friendship Day used to bring with it when I was in school. In the weeks leading up to the day, local stores would be overflowing with spools of Friendship Day ribbons and overrun with children picking out the ones with the least cheesy lines.
Classrooms would be filled with a restless energy all day; students waiting for the bell to ring to run up to friends and acquaintances alike, and exchange ‘Best Friends Forever’ bands. The smaller the surface area that wasn’t covered by friendship bands on one’s arm, the prouder one would feel.
As increasingly shallow as the day got through the years — with local stores trading the simple ribbons for flashier Friendship Day bracelets and kids treating the exchange of bands as a market transaction — there was still something wonderful about that moment between two close friends, tying a piece of fabric onto each other, acknowledging, marking, and celebrating a meaningful friendship.
I’ve found myself missing these measurable, tangible reminders of friendship and love, especially in the last year when communication has been difficult and easy to falter in, and the first reminder for most of us that it’s Friendship Day will most likely be from spam email notifications.
But as I write this, I receive a message from a friend on a girls chat group, the title of which is an incomprehensible amalgamation of all our names. She’s checking in on how we’re all doing. Another friend responds with a dramatic GIF, and somehow everything already feels a little lighter and better.
Friendships, both old and new, make their mark on our lives in inconspicuous and immeasurable ways. Even without a tangible token of our friendship, the lessons I’ve learnt from my friends over the years have been both the friendship band and band-aid I’ve needed.
Here’s what my girlfriends have taught me about self-love and success.
You Are Not Defined By What You Do
A few months into my new job last year, a friend called me up and asked me how I was doing. I automatically slipped into my knee-jerk response to the question – talking about my work, how busy I was, a small win I’d had that week, etc. She listened enthusiastically, said she was glad I was doing well at work, but reasserted, “I asked how you are doing, not your work.”
I reflected on that – me outside of my work – for the first time in a long time that evening.
That conversation with my friend reminded me that while who we are at work and what we do for a living forms a significant part of our identity, it’s not all there is to us. Failures at work don’t define us, and the wins aren’t all we should be capable of.
And, I’ve found, there’s nothing like a conversation with your girlfriends — talking about everything and nothing — to remind you of a world, a life, and your identity outside of simply what you do at work.
Stepping Out Of Your Comfort Zone Doesn’t Have To Be Terrible
I’ve watched and been inspired by my girlfriends constantly pushing themselves out of their comfort zone, not only in their careers but also in their personal lives. A friend who grew up on a largely non-vegetarian diet has switched to a vegan and environmentally sustainable lifestyle. Another friend who despised working out recently accomplished her goal of running a half marathon.
Stepping out of your comfort zone doesn’t mean pushing yourself beyond your limits, but exploring your potential. It will be uncomfortable, but use the strength and support of your girlfriends to push yourself beyond your comfort zone. You may discover new and incredible things about yourself!
Authenticity > Approval!
For the longest time, I associated success with external validation. Approval from others — be it for a task I’d done or the way I behaved meant I had done something right. What this meant, however, is constantly chasing this approval from others, but never actually feeling fulfilled.
It was during one such week of stretching myself thin in the pursuit of external validation that my girlfriends decided it was time for a loving but stern intervention.
They made me see that external validation will always be outside of my control. What was in my control was doing things in a manner that was healthy and fulfilling for me.
Being authentic to who you are and seeking your own validation before that of others is the only way you can successfully achieve your goals and truly feel fulfilled!
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Lift Others With You As You Climb Up
From readily helping me with notes because I’d lost mine (re: not made any) before an exam to helping me with college applications and job searches and even talking me up to their own professional network, my girlfriends have not only been there; they’ve lifted me up at every stage.
Anything I create is engaged with and encouraged by them. Any resource that could be helpful is shared. Any information that could benefit me is passed on post-haste.
I’ve realised this process of lifting people up applies outside of your sisterhood as well. On your journey towards success, help people take a step forward on their own journey as well. Your destination isn’t just success but significance.
So, make an impact on others by raising their power as you rise up.
Self-Care Looks Different For Different People
I have a friend whose skincare routine would put any beauty influencer to shame. It definitely did put my (non-existent) routine to shame.
It made me feel guilty and annoyed at myself for not having the time to develop a self-care ritual, or the discipline to stick to one. Self-care is an important cornerstone to self-love and self-confidence. I felt like my lack of self-care was leading to a lack of self-love and confidence as well.
I brought this up with the friend, asking her how she found the time and determination to engage in self-care every day. She told me that her skincare routine was what made her feel most cared for, which is why she felt like doing it every day. She pointed out that I spent time regularly engaging in things that made me happy as well — be it reading, calling up a friend, watching a TV show, or cooking. “Your idea of self-care is different but no less valid,” she said.
Social media and influencer culture has promoted an idea of self-care and self-love that is so glamorous and indulgent that it tends to feel inaccessible to most of us. Simply focus on spending some time on whatever feels like self-care to you.
Stay on the path of growing your self-acceptance and self-love quotient in a manner that is healthy to you. Stop comparing what helps you function at your optimum and feel recharged, with what makes others feel the same.
Our girlfriends in real life aren’t likely to be the Monica to our Rachel or the Blair to our Serena. One friend rarely fits into a single fictional mould of a character. But together they teach us enough to create a whole plotline filled with support, self-love, and success for ourselves!
What are some life lessons you’ve learned from your friends? Tell us in the comments below!
And a very happy Friendship Day to you and your tribe!
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