Female friendship has always been hard for me. I have been kicked out of friend groups right before every graduation from 8th grade to college. After spending years of trying to develop good friendships, I’ve ended all my schooling with little to no friends.
Every year I started school hopeful, not wanting to repeat the failed friendships from the year before. “This year I’ll make those lifelong girlfriends people always talk about”–and it never happened. I always got along with guys better and am still close with five of my fellow ministry leaders from high school. I am treated like one of the guys with them, but I never was “one of the girls.”
I tried so many times to be one of the girls, but I’d somehow get excluded. Either I didn’t support something they did, I didn’t want to go to parties they went to, or they became flat out jealous of me for being me. I had a best friend who suddenly stop talking to me because she hated how I was just myself. The trust broke after that, and though we made up, I was never the same around her, and the friendship ended. And no, it didn’t fade. It ended like a breakup. I pray for that friend all the time.
After years of all these bad friendships, I always had one constant, true best friend, Camila.
It just so happened that five months after my birth, one of our family friends had a baby girl, too. Camila became an automatic best friend. We grew up together and always wanted to hang out. She and her family were part of our family, always coming to events and gatherings.
While being one grade apart, we went to the same elementary and middle school and always went home with my Abuela (Grandma) after school. Camila’s family would come over to my house every Friday night. We’d open the pull-out bed in the living room and watch bootlegs of the latest movies (shh, don’t tell anyone). Thinking back to how often we were together makes me jealous of my past self.
Together throughout our teens, we went through many school dramas, boyfriends, and challenges. After every broken heart, we had a sleepover. After every failure, a sleepover. After every celebratory moment, another sleepover (now with drinks). We have always been there for every happy or sad moment.
As we get older, we tend to drift away from friends we had in school or at work. We hang out with who we are around most of the time. When Camila and I went to different high schools and colleges, we weren’t around each other, but we didn’t become distant. And my lovely friend, Camila, is not one to reach out and initiate conversation (and she knows it, too). If we ever get together, it is my initiative, and it’s like a waterfall of stories and life updates. I feel like we’re 13 again snuggled under covers sharing about our lives.
|How I describe our friendship:||How Camila describes our friendship:|
Apart but never distant Sisters
|Soul sisters, we’re more like family|
We always have each other’s back
We say it how it is, not what the other wants to hear
We don’t talk 24/7, but I know you’ll be there if I reach out
We expand each other’s interests
There’s a level of respect and awareness that I don’t get with other friends
Today, Camila and I are 22 and 23 years old. We’re both studying for our master’s degree and separated by 465 miles, a long 6-hour drive up the entire state of Florida. While I’ve stayed in Miami, she decided to go to school in Tallahassee. This is the furthest we’ve ever been apart. Now that she’s away, I want to see her more and wish I utilized the time she was here before. For her first semester away, I made a promise to call her every Saturday morning on my commute to class (yes, I had a class on Saturday). How do we keep our friendship strong?
Friends are like stars, you don’t always see them, but you know they’re always there.”Unknown
I always remember this saying when I feel distant or apart from Camila. I know the minute we see each other again, the streams of stories, and fun will come out.
After knowing Camila for over 21 years, I understand her more than she understands herself. I know what every one of her glances, laughs, hugs, tones, and movements mean. I can tell when she’s excited, upset, or lying to me. And I know she can do the same with me. It can be scary, and can occasionally make us want to withhold information from one another. That’s because we know when one of us messes up, the other is definitely going to call us out on it.
After 21 years and counting here is some advice I can give about keeping a true best friend:
The advice you hear about for every kind of relationship. It’s true. Share how you’re feeling about each other and the stuff you’re each going through. If you feel that you can’t communicate with your friend, then there could be an issue with…
Trusting is hard, especially after getting hurt by friends in the past. I can say I got lucky with Camila, having an established trust for over years of friendship, but for most, it has to be earned. To gain trust, you have to give it.
3. It’s okay to have a few real best friends
Something I learned after my many issues with women friends is that it’s okay if you only have two friends. As long as they’re two good friends. I’ve come to terms with what has felt like a best friend turned out not to be. It’s okay, quality over quantity.
4. Be yourself
True friends can be their authentic selves around one another. If you feel like you can’t express a certain part of yourself around them, think about it and ask yourself if this person loves you for you.
5. Open and honest
If you see your friend going down the wrong path, be open and honest with them. Share your concerns nicely. And when your friend shares their concerns about you, be open to their thoughts. Most of the time, friends see more than we can.
6. Be there
Always be there for each other. From celebrating birthdays to answering panic calls at 3 AM, be there for each other.
While a lot of the time with friends we share and talk a lot, the best part to me is just to be heard by someone who truly cares. Genuinely listening to one another builds much trust.
If you want a more biblical source for advice, I recommend a small book called “The Friendship of Women” by Joan Chittister. She writes short chapters about each woman from the bible and a trait about friendship they teach us. For example, Esther – Leadership, Lydia – Growth, Phoebe – Support, Elizabeth – Acceptance, Mary Magdalene – Trust and Love, and many more.
It’s funny that this book was given to me by my theology professor and mentor as a graduation gift because my faith in female friendship was weak. As the book says, it is not easy to find models of women friendships. What we have is knowledge from our own experiences to share. On top of that, we can learn from the women of the bible who closely embody what women value in a friend.