Girlfriends That We Can Ugly Cry In Front of: Why We Need Them
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “In order to have a friend, you must first be one.” Think about that for a moment. What does it mean to be a friend? Ask ten people, and you’ll likely get ten different, but similar answers. Words like a person whom one knows, likes and trusts, one for whom you have affection, or with whom you are allied, a comrade will certainly make the definition. But, for me, I can reduce the definition of friend down to the person with whom I can be vulnerable. How do you feel about that word: vulnerable? Does it make you nervous? For many years in my life it did. I worked very hard not to show my vulnerability to anyone, friend or foe. It seems there is a good reason that the word vulnerable would give us pause for concern. Although its original definition meant capable of being physically wounded, it is now also used figuratively to mean defenselessness against non-physical attacks, such as criticism, and who wants that? Boiled down to a more current and likely more frequent use, vulnerability means emotional exposure, uncertainty and risk: words that don’t rank highly in a world where being perfect and in control appear to be the end game. Society views vulnerability as a sign of imperfection and a weakness, but on an individual level, don’t we look for vulnerability in others? I find this interesting. Kind of an oxymoron don’t you think? We want others to be vulnerable to give us a feeling of trust and a comfort zone in order that we may connect with them, but yet, we don’t want others to see our vulnerability because in ourselves, we view it as a weakness. Have you ever done this? I suspect we all have at some time in our lives, but isn’t it exhausting to function this way: always striving for perfection, keeping our guard up, refusing to be “vulnerable?’ Who wants or needs that? I know I don’t, because to echo Cindy Lauper’s sentiment, I just wanna have fun.
As I have matured, the ability to be comfortable with my vulnerability has allowed me to fully appreciate and better understand all of my emotions: love, trust, joy and fear to name a few. And in doing so, it has no doubt enhanced my qualities as a friend. It is completely freeing to open yourself up to exploring all of your emotions not only with yourself but with the women in your world, those that won’t take advantage of your vulnerability and don’t expect “something” in return, there is no score card with your girlfriends. Emphasis on girl, you know what I mean, your girl-friends. The ones who see you ugly cry and provide a steady stream of tissues, those who quietly listen as you scream at the top of your lungs in frustration, the ones who endure your singing out loud really loudly off key with a smile on their faces, those who join you when you Elaine Benes awkward dance (ok, I just showed my age with that analogy), the ones who are your life preserver as you sink to the lowest of the lows, those you’ll wear that swimsuit in front of proudly, even if you never wear it outside of their company, and of course, they’ve got you covered when you snort laugh a drink out your nose. Get the picture? Our girlfriends simply show up, each in their own unique way, and love us no matter what. They give us the energy to keep going when we think we can’t, they bolster our confidence, and they know how to have fun. Because in the end, isn’t that all we really want: to be loved and to have fun?
“In order to have a friend, you must first be one.” If the number of girlfriends that I have in my world is any kind of indication, I think I am doing pretty well with the “be a friend first” thing because I have been blessed beyond measure with a whole tribe of girlfriends that I can ugly cry in front of!
The new year is just around the corner, and if you haven’t yet embraced the notion of letting yourself be vulnerable, I challenge you to give it a try. It may seem risky, letting go, but the rewards may be life changing. Let me know how this is working for you in the new year. Now go, gather around your girlfriends and have some fun!