This morning I received the most adorable photo of one of my friends. It was of her and her boyfriend still in their jammies, tucked up in bed with their faces transformed feline by one of the many apps that do that now. The caption was simple and read, "Happy Sunday". This may not seem like a huge deal and it isn't, but it's one example of the sweet, silly and wholly necessary messages exchanged in my most active Whatsapp group, which is occupied by five of my dearest girlfriends.
Why am I sharing this? Who gives a fuck? Well I do and frankly you should too. It occurred to me yesterday, when another member of our spectacular sixsome shared a photo of her newly manicured nails, how fundamental to my happiness this group is. In this increasingly negative world, where we are bombarded with perfectly valid reasons to be anxious and terrified every day, this group provides a necessary space for frivolity, for gratitude and for HUGE, heaping helpings of positivity.
The group consists of me and five fabulously different friends I worked with once, which seems like a lifetime ago now, but, in reality, only five years have passed. We are all now quite different from who we were then. Happier and more settled, slightly more grown up and jaded, but in our insistence to not let our respective paths to other careers, education or opportunities separate us, we grew not only individually, but collectively as well.
We are actors, designers, writers, dancers and dreamers. We are single and married, affianced and in long term relationships. We are busy with burgeoning ideas and projects, but still message frequently because we know that any news shared within the confines of our group will be received well and celebrated. Every haircut is a triumph, every promotion prompts a peppering of GIPHs depicting cheerleaders or enthusiastic clapping. Every request for advice answered earnestly, and with careful consideration, and every Netflix recommendation fiercely debated.
About once every few months we attempt to all get together, to recreate the dynamic of our friendship IRL. It usually involves copious amounts of prosecco and gin and a meal which is quick to cook, so as not to miss out on any gossip. It's rare that all six of us can attend, but any missing members are soon caught up via the group and we make sure that nothing TOO fun happens when someone has to miss out, so as not to unintentionally alienate with inside jokes that not everyone understands.
Too often, as women, we are encouraged to compete against each other, to be envious of what the other has. But when you have a strong group of friends who not only wish you success, but help you achieve it, it is far more gratifying than even the most salacious of catfights.
To be championed by other women, even for something as superficial as a sexy pedicure, matters. To have a crew that you know have your back as equally when things are shitty as when things are brilliant, provides a real sense of belonging, of camaraderie and of safety. From breakups, redundancies and bereavements to engagements, promotions and parties, we have seen it all through together. Even when one of us is suffering, the group's positive vibes provide a welcome sliver of light on the darkest of days.
I want to thank these women, as they brighten my life and encourage me to laugh and to be laughed at. They provide me with the opportunity to practice gratitude every day and without them I would not have the success I have, nor would I be so unafraid to fail.
We all deserve strong, enduring friendships like these, but we have to be willing to cultivate them and to work at them. The respect and compassion we all have for each other wasn't born overnight. And undoubtably there are those in the group who closer to some than to others, but that's not only OK, it's natural and completely understandable. The most important thing is that we are a strong unit, which provides support and kindness to each other in a world often lacking in these areas, especially towards women.
Thanks again, ladies, for all that you do without realising you're doing anything. And if anyone reading this is struggling to find their people, and need a bit of a boost, just hit me up. I'm always down to include as many people as possible in my orbit of exceptional women. We need each other and we may never realise how much until we consciously work to carve out a little space for others in our lives and are then brave enough to let them in.