What makes a genuine girlfriend?
It's a question often asked, but rarely answered in the best way. To build a life-long relationship with a group of girls, how does that work?
Like most, I've had my share of failed friendships. In high school, I had so many different groups of friends that it was hard find someone who liked me for me. In college, as a biracial young women in a historically white sorority, I didn't know if anyone would truly understand me, and being an independent woman in the South, where I'm at the age of getting married and having babies, who will truly support my career aspirations?
My journey to solid friendships have been littered by fakers, posers and users. If you're any sort of decent person, and especially when you're younger, it can be hard to tell who has your best interest at heart and who's there for the glory.
As you get older and get hurt by life, it can be a bit easier. Right after college I realized the importance of having people to depend on. There I was, 22 with a slew of "friends" but absolutely nobody to talk to. Sure, I had some childhood friends, but we hadn't spoken about real world stuff in years; there were my sorority sisters, but did they really care about the ups and downs of my mediocre life? Sure, we all got drunk together at mixers, tailgates and various functions, but did they even see the world like I did?
Not everyone in your circle is beneficial for your growth.
I found myself alone in a sea of people, something I never understood until that moment. That's when I started taking inventory of my friend stock. Who was really there for me? Who was just using me for good connections or a place to stay for the weekend?
Let me start by saying this: women aren't bad. I'm not writing this article to bash women and the relationships they have. I'm merely stating that not everyone in your circle is beneficial for your growth.
Thankfully, there are likeminded women out there who are looking for equally fulfilling friendships, but first you have to recognize who should be a part of your circle and who you may need to let go. Here are three things to look for when building your tribe of women who empower you to be your best you.
Your tribe should be a manifestation of your spirit.
I spent way too much time giving to my friends, making sure they were supported and fulfilled in their own journey without asking for the same in return. Because, after all, isn't friendship about giving and not expecting to receive?
In time, I began feeling like I was on a one-way street of friendship. I was focusing more on giving than getting, so I stopped giving. I took a break to see who cared, who reached out, and who actually asked me how I was doing in the world.
It was during that time one of my closest friends wrote a letter to me and, without prompt, stated, “Don't change who you are, just change the company you keep." That may seem like a 'duh' notion now, but when I got this letter it was the equivalent to a lightbulb moment.
You see, when you continually give, you get to the point where the cost outweigh the benefits. You don't want to keep caring when you feel others don't. That's the wrong way to look at it.
Instead of giving to those who aren't deserving, give to those who appreciate it.
Your tribe should be nurturing, the place you go when the world has beat you up so bad, you don't know up from down. They should be empowering, enough to get you back on the horse when you've fallen and lost your way. They should be supportive, cheering you on at every moment on every positive journey. They should fill your spirit each and every time you speak with them.
Your tribe should be honest.
This is a hard one as it also requires you to be honest with yourself. Girlfriends should not only be able to tell you when your dress is not the right fit for you body, but also when the guy you're dating is using and abusing you. Your girls should be able to, and want to be, honest with you in every aspect. I had a lot of 'yes' friends growing up, ones that didn't really care about where I ended up, so they just told me what I wanted to hear. That got me a in a lot of trouble. It led me down a path of not knowing or loving myself, a hard path to get off when you're a young woman.
Focus on women who tell you the truth, be it brutal or otherwise. A friend who has enough balls to tell you something you don't want to hear is a friend worth keeping. Once I had a friend who refused to listen to her friends. She chose to believe the lies she was being fed from her long-time boyfriend and distanced herself from everyone trying to help her. Shortly after that, she got a STD from said boyfriend after finding out he had been cheating on her the entire time and all of her friends were right. I've always taken that with me, because if you trust your friends with your clothes, hair and decor opinions - you should trust them with your life, too. If you don't, find someone you do.
Your tribe should not be judgmental.
We're all guilty of judging someone else and their actions, friend or not. A bit of judgment will always be there because it's a part of human nature. What you don't want is a friend that tells you one thing, then blabs to mutual friends about the 'horrible' or 'stupid' things you're doing. We've all had friends like this, some of us still do. Those people are best kept at a distance. If you think of your life as a theater, they should be standing room--only available when another might be occupied.
I had a toxic friend like that for years. I was never sure what I did that made her so venomous to me when talking with others, but it never stopped.
It gave me severe anxiety and made me doubt my abilities as a friend because I couldn't figure it out. But, the answer was simple: She didn't love herself enough, so of course she couldn't love me. Some people are just that way. Their judgments come from doubting or even hating themselves, which is only going to filter into your life the same way. Choose friends that don't hold judgements against you, that allow you to make mistakes and learn lessons without constantly reminding you of who you were.
Friends are meant to represent different sides of your personality, different realms of your life. Girlfriends, especially, should not only represent those but challenge those realms. They should listen when you say you're hurt; they should not only celebrate the the victories, but cry and pick you up from your losses.
I've questioned my friendships more than most, but now I've build a strong, beneficial and beautiful group of girlfriends. Being as we've had the year of the woman in 2017, let's make 2018 the year of empowerment. Because that's exactly what your girl squad does – empower you in all that you do.
What do you look for in your squad?
Featured image by Shutterstock
- 6 Questions For Choosing The Right Friends - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- Keep Long Distance Friendships Alive Work - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- How To Maintain & Strengthen Long Distance Friendships - xoNecole: Lifestyle, Culture, Love, & Wellness ›
- Why Some Black Women Have a Hard Time Making Friends ›
- We Asked These Women To Explain What Their Best Friends Mean ... ›
- Why Can't Black Women be Friends? - Brown Sista ›
- 17 Best On-Screen Black Girl Friendships We Will Cherish Forever ›
- To The White Woman I Can No Longer Be Friends With – Be Yourself ›
- There's An App That Helps Women Find And Make New (Girl) Friends ›
- #friendshipgoals hashtag on Twitter ›
- Urban Dictionary: Friendship goals ›
- 141 Quotes About Friendship | ChristianQuotes.info ›
- 7 Friendship Goals - YouTube ›
Courtney is a contributing writer, based in Puerto Rico by way of Tennessee. Interested in the intersection of fashion and culture, she has an affinity for fashion, empowerment, and really good tacos. Keep up with her on Instagram (@hautecourtxo).
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
There’s nothing quite as humbling as navigating adulthood with no instruction manual. Since the turn of the decade, it seems like everything in our society that could go wrong has, inevitably, gone wrong. From the global pandemic, our crippling student debt problem, the loneliness crisis, layoffs, global warming, recession, and not to mention figuring out what to eat for dinner every night. This constant state of uncertainty has many of us wondering, when are the grown-ups coming to fix all of this?
But the catch is, we are the new grown-ups.
As if it happened without our permission, we became the new adults. We are the members of society who are paying taxes, having children, getting married, and keeping our communities afloat, one iced latte at a time. Still, there’s something about doing all these grown-up duties that feel unnaturally grown-up. Enter the #teenagegirlinher20s.
If there’s one hashtag to give you the state of the next cohort of adults, it’s this one. Of the videos that have garnered over 3.9M views, you’ll find a collection of users who are overwhelmed by life’s pressing existential responsibilities, clung to nostalgia, and reminiscent of the days when their mom and dad took care of their insurance plans.
no like i cant explain to her why i had to buy multiple tank air dupes from aritzia #teenagegirlinher20s #fyp
The concept of being a 20-something or 30-something teenager is linked to the sentiment of not feeling “grown up enough” to do grown-up things while feeling underprepared and even nihilistic about whether that preparation even matters.
It’s our generation’s version of when we ask our grandmothers how old they are and they simply reply with, “I still feel 45,” all while being every bit of 76 years old. In this, we share a warped concept of time while clinging to a desire for infantilization.
Granted, the pandemic did a number on our concept of time. Many of us who started the pandemic in our early or mid-20s missed out on three fundamental years of socialization, career development, and personal milestones that traditionally help to mark our growth.
Our time to figure out and plan our next steps through fumbling yet active participation was put on pause indefinitely and then resumed provisionally. This in turn has left many of us hanging in the balance of uncertainty as we try to make sense of the disconnect between our minds and bodies in this missing gap of time.
Because we’re all still figuring out what the ramifications of being locked away and frozen in time by a global pandemic will have on us as a society, there really is no “right” way of making up for lost time. Feeling unprepared for any new chapter of life is a natural rite of passage, pandemic or not. However, it’s important to not stay stuck in the last age or period of life that made sense to us because self-growth is the truest evidence of personal progress.
So whether you’re leaning on your inner child, teenager, or 20-something for guidance as you fill the gap between your real age and pandemic age, know that it’s okay to grieve the person you thought you would be and the milestones you thought you’d hit before you ever knew what a pandemic was. If there’s anything that the pandemic taught us, it’s that we have the power to reimagine a better world and life for ourselves. And if we tap into our inner teenager as a compass, we can piece together our next chapter with a fresh outlook.
Sure, we’ve lost a couple of years, but there are still some really amazing ones ahead.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Featured image by Stephen Zeigler/Getty Images