We are in the midst of many challenges and uncertainties in this world. Violence, poverty, women’s rights, and human rights have taken a toll on our peace. Through friendship, we build stability and create a safe space for our peace.
International Day of Friendship is celebrated on July 30 and was designated by the United Nations General Assembly (U.N.). The day honors relationships that promote and encourage peace, happiness, and unity. The U.N. encourages governments and organizations to coordinate activities that celebrate the friendships we keep close to us.
You might think this is just another holiday to sell more greeting cards. Well, you wouldn’t be wrong. The Greeting Card National Association had initially tried to promote the idea of Friendship Day back in the 1920s, but customers weren’t interested. It was an obvious gimmick and not actually something worth celebrating. Social media helped revive the popularity of Friendship Day in 2011.
Other than family relationships, my friendships have been the most important relationships I’ve had. Friends choose to be in each other’s lives, and friendship is based on commonalities and experiences. Black women’s friendships are sometimes perpetuated on television as spiteful or competitive. The truth is, all relationships, including friendships, require work and time placed into them to receive the benefits they have to offer.
Audre Lorde said, “At this point in time, were racism to be totally eradicated from those middle range relationships between Black women and White women, those relationships might become deeper, but they would still never satisfy our particular Black woman’s need for one another, given our shared knowledge and traditions and history.”
In other words, Black women’s friendships are necessary and important.
There’s nothing quite like a tribe of good girlfriends. Women understand each other; how our brain works. So, when we have thoughts or do things that may seem wild other women will be there to back us up, validate our reasoning, and tell us that we’re not actually crazy for feeling the way we’re feeling. Your tribe will be there to accept you without judging you for your feelings.
I enjoy knowing that within my women friendships, I can openly share things about my body and mental health and ask literally any question I have without shame. I don’t feel the need to hide things or avoid certain topics with my women friends. My girlfriends, not only affirm me, but they disclose some of their own advice from when they’ve dealt with the same thing.
While this may be a product of the problematic gender roles in society today, women are more open about their emotions than most men are. We don’t hide from our feelings. When we’re going through a tough time, we need to speak to someone who feels just as deeply as we do, someone who won’t say “just get over it,” someone who takes the time to analyze and inspect every facet of the experience and the feeling to help us get through it.
And most importantly, our women’s friendships are important because associating with other strong women makes us stronger in the end. Unfortunately, we live in a world that tries to tear Black women down, make us the lesser part of society, and discount our emotions and opinions much too often. We’re told we’re too sensitive, too emotional, and that we’re to blame for all the bad things that happen to us. The only way to stop yourself from falling into the trap of believing it is to surround yourself with other strong women.
My girlfriends keep me in check, and I do the same for them. We’re brutally honest with each other, be angry together, laugh together, and cry together. I don’t feel crazy, too sensitive, or too emotional for any of it. I just feel like me. When you and your girlfriends can build each other up, despite all the negativity circulating in the world today, you will feel more confident.
As an adult, sometimes it can be hard to make friends. Put yourself out there when you’re attending events, or taking an exercise class. Social media can even be a place to meet new friends. After several years of being Instagram friends, I finally met a group of women in real life. We are all writers and live in the same city.
I also believe it’s important to ask yourself what you want out of your women friendships, and actually become that. You’ll start to attract the type of friends that you really need in your life, and be able to reciprocate.
To celebrate International Friends Day, call up your girlfriends or schedule a Zoom meeting if you’re in different cities. Plan a girls’ trip, send a handwritten card or post pictures on social media. Use the hashtag #InternationalFriendshipDay
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Archuleta is an author, poet, blogger, and host of the FearlessINK podcast. Archuleta's work centers Black women, mental health and wellness, and inspiring people to live their fullest potential.