How often do we see terms like Squad Goals, Girl Gang, and other such declarations banded about across social media. Even tv shows like Sex and the City (best programme ever fyi), Friends etc all tell us that to live our best lives we have to have a group, our squad. Its a regular occurrence and the declarations are made to let us all know that the declare-ee has The Best friends etc. They have a female army in their corner, backing them every step of the way and cheerleadering those pom poms like their own life depended on it for them. But, what if you have never been in a “Girl Gang”? Do these terms make you feel a little bit rubbish? Do they make you feel like you are missing out on membership to some exclusive club? That exclusive club membership seems to open its books at various stages through life, and if you miss the sign up at one stage, another will come along in the next few years, but actually, you might find you don’t want your name down. Grab your cuppa people, (grab a pot, its a long one) lets discuss membership to the girl gang.
Lets go back to those younger years, when we are just dipping our toes into the friendship pool. Your Mum would invite her friend and her children round the house, you would be told to “go and show Joanne your dolls” and thats it, you and Joanne would have a great time, bonding over your Tiny Tears and barbie slippers, friendship made. Then you start school. Your coat hook is next to Sara’s coat hook, she has a My Little Pony pencil case, so do you. You tell her you like her pencil case, she says she likes yours, job done, your definitely now gonna be bff’s for ever and ever.
Then you progress into secondary school and life gets a little more complicated. the rules shift a little. Suddenly you feel nervous about telling Popular Penelope that you like her shoes, which are the same shoes as you have, incase she thinks you are a weirdo or have gone all Single White Female on her. You and Sarah, your bestie from primary discover that you both really like Handsome Harry’s hair and little niggles of insecurity start to creep in if he lends Sarah his protractor. The lines start to blur a little in your friendships and you have to readjust and reset the guidelines. Teenage angst, hormones, awkward stages all raise their ugly head and your own head can spin, friends can often cross over to become a little frenemy! Like I said, it gets complicated! Friendships obviously do survive this stage, (I am lucky to still have some of my school friends in my life) but it can all get weird for a while there!
Work/college/uni is the next big opportunity to sign up, when you meet a whole new group of people. These relationships are often more “adult” friendships, but you still get complications like both going for the same promotion. Or not having as much time for your friends as you and Handsome Harry are now a couple and flying around in his Ford Fiesta at the weekends. You may even have moved away from your town to go and pursue opportunities as you make your way forward into adulthood. A little more effort is required to maintain those friendships, and sadly, some naturally fizzle out.
Next stage, you get to proper adulting. The time when you are meant to have it all figured out. Dream job, tick. Partner of your dreams, tick. French bulldog, tick. John Lewis dinner set, tick. The White Company bedding, tick. Your girl gang cheerleading squad, ohhhhhh…..half tick……..no tick……. It hasn’t worked out quite that way. Maybe your career took you in another direction. Maybe you had a baby when your friends were still out there finding their lobster. Maybe your relationship broke down and the ex got custody of the friends. Whatever the reason, you don’t have your “squad” and it can make you feel crap when everyone else seems to. Like you have failed at some test that life sets you. Its not really socially acceptable to admit you don’t have your “girls” The perception can be there must be something wrong with you surely. You feel embarrassed and that you are a billy-no-mates that has to shake her own pom poms.
Well, I want to look at why, even as adults, we crave that “squad”, and whether its something you yourself do? I get it when we are younger as its a safety in numbers kind of deal. I personally, don’t think that you need a girl gang, but its incredibly important to have friends. I think that learning to be your own cheerleader is far more valuable to your soul, but we still seem to seek that grouping. Yes, we all need friends and connections, and those relationships can bring so much to our lives, but no one should be made to feel any less valuable if they don’t have a tribe should they? I have never enjoyed cliques. Even at school my friends that I took into adulthood were all from different “groups” and I have always enjoyed variation in my company. I cherish my close friends, I love being with them and always have fun, but I’m also a bit of a lone wolf at times, happy in my own company.
But what do you do if you do want that squad? In adulthood its not so easy. Your potential “Sarah” isn’t carrying her My Little Pony pencil case any more. Your not put in the situation where you are thrown together with lots of people on such a regular basis. Some people of course already have their girl gang and are not accepting new membership applications. You can also be carrying baggage from life that you are bringing along with you. It can be hard. Im not sure that Plenty of Fish for friends is a thing! When you think of tv shows and films, women are almost always portrayed as a group. There are always a few life long pompom shakers together. It can make you crave it, but we should remember that life isn’t always like the tv shows or social media. It can feel incredibly isolating for people that are not in the clique or a girl gang. Be kind and mindful of those around you.
Its important also to not let previous encounters make you afraid to make new friends. Female friendships can be the most rewarding, yet most complicated things ever. We are strange creatures! Friendships mean different things to different people, but they should all have value, and if they don’t add value to your life, they are not your people. I was put in a situation a few years back, that totally rocked my faith in people, and I remembered something that I had been taught at the time by my Bhuddist friend and mentor (Yep, I really, truly do have a bhuddist as a friend) and she had told me to never let my heart be hardened. Even if you have been shit on from a great height (that was my terminology, not my bhuddist buddy) let your heart still be open and kind. Learn the lessons the situation taught you, but don’t become closed.
I think this is good advice. Accept that invitation for coffee with your Instagram buddy. Catch up with that old school friend. Talk to the mum at the school gate that always smiles at you. There is always room for new friends after all!