Written by Sara Fender
Before full-time careers, live-in partners, owning homes, and multiple pets and children (if you’re into that sort of thing) there was a time in my life that I loved and relied on my girlfriends. We had meals together, went out multiple times a week, were invested in each other’s dating lives and cheered each other on as we made career moves and life choices.
Unfortunately, as we got older and our own personal, professional and home responsibilities grew, we would check-in once a week with a phone call, which eventually became once a month, then once every few months, which soon became the occasional text. I would see their pictures on social media and feel like I had a grasp on their lives and that felt sufficient. Years went by and this behaviour became the norm. No matter how many times I would see a picture on Instagram and think “I’m going to call her this weekend and catch up,” I never followed through.
And then we found ourselves in the middle of a global pandemic…
This last year has been one of major change and growth for me, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. I was forced to re-evaluate every aspect of my life from my career, to diet and exercise, to my daily living, to my spending habits, to my relationships with my partner and my friends. After almost a year I have emerged better, stronger, more confident, ready to take risks and step outside my comfort zone and, oh yeah, single… That last one was the tough one. I’ve been with my current significant other for 14 years and we definitely served a purpose in each other’s lives. We were there for each other during some life-altering situations that I know I would not have made it through without him (and vice versa). We lived, laughed and grew together… until we didn’t. Unfortunately, it took the pandemic to show us.
That being said and as hard as all of that has been, one of the biggest positives has been rediscovering my female friendships. When I thought lockdown was only going to be a couple of weeks, it seemed like a welcome break from life and responsibilities and I treated it like a little staycation – not wearing makeup, rarely getting dressed, watching an entire series in a day with a nap after every few episodes and just really relishing in getting rest and resetting. But then lockdown just kept going and going and. You get it. You were there.
I started craving routine , a sense of purpose and human interaction (something I never thought I’d want, as a self-proclaimed hermit). I began working out, journaling, meditating, reading novels, working in the yard and setting up video Happy Hours with friends from my past.
At first the conversations were pretty surface: “Ohmygod, how are you?!?” “You haven’t aged a day!” “I see you and your cute family on IG all the time! How is that whole ‘kid’ thing going?” “How’s work?” “Tell me everything!!!!”
At first, I thought these were going to be one time phone calls, since we were all home, with too much free time on our hands, but as quarantine progressed the phone calls became more and more frequent as our lives started to change (losing jobs, fighting with partners, homeschooling children), and we became bored, frustrated and needed to vent. Who better to vent to then my girls who have seen me in my 20s, drunk, throwing up, wearing terrible cardigan sweater sets and trying to rock the Meg Ryan haircut (that was a massive fail), making terrible decisions, dating all of the wrong people? These women stayed by my side and loved me through it all.
A decade later, we have rekindled our friendships; we laugh about memories from “the good ‘ol days” but also know our time is now and welcome life with open arms, no matter how scary, uncertain, and at times, exciting it all is. I didn’t even realize how much I missed and needed their support, and now, I can’t imagine going through life without them.
Some people expect their significant other to be their best friend, soulmate, lover, and to fulfill their every need, which is unfair and unrealistic. And if, that relationship ends, where does that leave you?
If there is a message to be shared, it’s to hold on to your strong female friendships! Being there for each other, supporting and encouraging each other through all walks of life is something we all need, even if we don’t realize it.