Anatomy of a Friendship

Pismo Beach, California. Photo by: Kyle Brown

Pismo Beach, California. Photo by: Kyle Brown

I’m riding shotgun next to Ariel, my dear friend and roommate from my study abroad semester in Paris, and she’s speaking at a rapid pace. High energy, audible enthusiasm, eyes widening, occasionally taking her hands off the wheel to gesticulate. She’s telling me about one of her friends. “And she’s bright, committed, kind, fun, quirky—you would love her.” I nod my head and watch as Ariel describes this girl’s genuine, charming personality and proceeds to tick off the reasons she appreciates her. It occurs to me as Ariel is speaking that what is happening in her car at this moment is a beautiful thing.

Two women are engaging in a conversation about the wonderful qualities of another woman. There is zero jealousy or insecurity that arises as a result; rather, there is an abundance of love, warmth, and sincerity. Within my circle of female friendships, I notice this pattern of speaking highly about women to other women constantly and perhaps even take it for granted. After all, I listened this past year as Julia told me about her driven, independent, lovable friend from college set to visit France. I smiled when Charlotte told me how proud she was of her friend in midwifery school and when Laura relayed stories of her adventures with her best friend from home. And when I met these friends of friends, I was thrilled to finally say hello to the some of the women who meant so much to the women who had come to mean so much to me.

I think the ability to admire, respect, and brag about one of your girlfriends to another girlfriend is a mark of a secure and strong friendship, both with the person you’re speaking about and with the person you’re speaking to. I’m not sure this happens enough between women, but it absolutely should.

I often evaluate relationships based on these criteria: do I have positive things to say about this friend? Do I look forward to sharing stories of this friend with someone else? Am I proud of this friend? Am I inspired and impressed by her? Do I see qualities in her I would like to emulate in myself?

If the answers are yes to these questions, count yourself blessed to have a person in your life whom you adore and cherish. And count yourself further blessed if you have other friends who express genuine happiness for you when you develop a relationship with someone who positively affects your life.

Each lovely friend in my life brings a different kind of energy and joy to my days. I am beyond grateful to say that I’m surrounded by ambitious, strong, intelligent, hilarious, kind-hearted women about whom I will never stop bragging. They enlighten me, make me laugh, introduce me to new ideas and places, and encourage me to celebrate who I am.

Pause to reflect on your friendships and to appreciate the people who matter to you. And to all those gems who consistently brighten my life with your presences, thank you—I treasure you.