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Here at One For Women we talk a lot about compassion and kindness and supporting those we love. It’s not just lip service – we truly believe in small gestures like hugging a friend who’s going through a rough time or saying “great job” to one who’s knocked it out of the park.
Which is why when it comes to your friendships, we believe that supporting your friends through small (and sometimes big!) gestures can make a huge difference. In fact, your friends have a bigger impact in your life than you likely realize, so surrounding yourself with a group that will have your back, and more importantly, speak up for you when you most need it, is crucial.
Outside of our family, our friends are likely the largest influence on our emotional state as they are the ones we spend a significant time with, who we look to for validation of our big ideas and consolation when life doesn’t go our way. If we’re stressed, they calm us down. If we’re sad, they’re bringing the ice cream. That’s why it’s extra important that we show up for our friends, the way we would want them to show up for us.
Sometimes it may seem as though your friends don’t need that much from you. If you’re surrounded by strong, empowered women who seem like they’re killing it in life, you might think that they’ve got it covered (what could you offer them?) or even just forget that they may still need you, despite looking like they’ve got it all figured out. Because there’s such thing as a “strength façade” – the appearance that someone is strong and has figured it out and therefore doesn’t need your support, when in fact the exact opposite is true.
Too often, we’re fighting battles others know nothing about. For some reason, as women, we talk about the day-to-day things that annoy us (“I can’t believe he never called me back!”) but less about the bigger life issues that are deeply, emotionally affecting us. Why is it that we can feel incredibly close to the people around us but somehow not open up to the things that are affecting us to the core?
Perhaps it’s because speaking it out loud would require us to acknowledge it, to deal with it ourselves, and maybe we’re not ready for that. But this is why, as a friend, it’s so incredibly important to show up for each other – just because we’re not ready to let down that wall, doesn’t mean that comfort from a friend won’t have an impact.
So how do you combat the strength façade? Check in with your friends. Ask them how they’re doing, and don’t end the conversation at “good.” Pay attention to the little things they say – “I’m going to visit my dad this weekend because he’s been sick” or “I didn’t get a lot of sleep the other night because my boyfriend and I had a fight” and dig into those. Give them a hug, ask them if they want to talk, let them know you’re there for them. Small gestures like this can make a huge difference for someone who is afraid to ask for help.
For most of us, it’s a challenge to balance being a good friend with the demands of our busy lives. There’s always more work, more family obligations, something that gets in the way. And even when we do spend time with our friends, it might be rare that you really get to the heart of the conversation to talk about the “deep” stuff because there’s so much else to catch up on – who’s dating who, what so-and-so did to so-and-so, you know what I’m talking about.
Even if you’re busy (aren’t we all?) there are small things you can do to check in with your friends and let them know you’re there – sending a text message to let them know you’re thinking of them or a funny gif when you know they’ve had a bad day. Asking what they’re doing for the holidays so they’re not alone, and telling them you’re proud of them when they’ve just gone for that big promotion or started that new company.
That’s the cool thing about small gestures – they don’t need to take a lot of time or cost a lot of money to have an impact. Most people in this world just want to know that someone is thinking of them. There’s something inherently wonderful about feeling noticed – no matter how confident, strong or independent you are, it’s nice to know you’re not alone in this thing.
The other area where we need to do more to support our friends is when it comes to the accomplishments. A good friend of mine recently earned a promotion but none of her friends knew about it for months. Why? Because we just don’t really talk about those things. BUT WE SHOULD.
As women especially, we need to be shouting it from the rooftops when we accomplish something awesome. Even if you feel uncomfortable tooting your own horn, think about this. Every time that you acknowledge overcoming a challenge, earning a promotion or winning an award, you are sending a message to the women around you that WE CAN DO THIS. That women deserve to rise up in society and that with hard work and determination, it’s possible to accomplish our dreams. So even if you feel awkward about singing your own praises, remember the importance of doing so – that you are showing other women and girls that IT IS POSSIBLE.
As friends, we can support each other by holding each other accountable for sharing this message. By checking in and following up on each other’s’ career plans, personal goals, hopes, and dreams, we can hold each other accountable to not only prove to ourselves that we can accomplish whatever we set our minds to but to prove this to all the little girls out there.
If you’ve gotten in the habit of just assuming your friends have it covered and they don’t need your support, think again. Show up for your friends, and not just in the big ways like weddings and births. Show up when they’ve had a bad day, put on a big presentation at work or had to dump that guy. Show up by recognizing that they may be struggling with things you don’t know about yet, but that you can have an effect on through your compassion and comfort. Show up by reaching out in small ways – through thoughtful text messages, kind words or simply paying attention. Show up by celebrating their wins and reminding them how important it is, not just for themselves but for those watching, that those wins are in fact celebrated. Show up for them because if we rise together, we are all the better for it.