I used to be one of those girls who took pride in being “one of the boys.”
I grew up with three older male cousins who I considered my brothers. And just like what most younger siblings would tell you, I looked up to them, found whatever they did cool, and copied them. This dynamic worked well for them because I was a filler and rarely complained about it.
I didn’t like playing Super Mario Brothers on NES, but I always liked watching them play so they had an instant audience and cheerer whom they didn’t need to share the console with. Whenever we pretended to be members of the Voltes V team, I was there, ready to play as Jamie Robinson, and climb the “Voltes V guava tree” beside our house. I wanted to fit in, so while I didn’t enjoy playing tops and yoyos as much as they did, I learned how. Needless to say, there weren’t many dolls around the house; we played with G.I. Joe action figures instead.
My female cousins, who are all roughly the same age, are younger than me by at least four years. Whenever we played house or school, I was always the mother or the teacher—the one with such responsibilities as cooking food for the children and giving lessons. They had their own world and I was allowed in only when they needed me.
My best friend from preschool to Grade 1 was a boy. In third grade, while the girls in my class were arguing over which Spice Girl they were, I was attending advanced math classes every Saturday, where there were only a handful of girls.
When I finally met a girl I could call my best friend in Grade 5, we had a falling out the following school year because she got cute and the popular girls took her as one of their own. I vowed to never call anyone my best friend again.
I had girl friends in high school. But in our clique, there were more boys than girls. And what the boys liked to talk about were the popular girls, the very same girls who “stole” my best friend.
The popular girls fascinated me. Not all of them were actually pretty, but they all looked put-together, had great hair, and owned compact mirrors. I can’t really blame my best friend for ditching me for them. I would’ve joined too if they had found me worthy.
What fascinated me the most about them was that their group was exclusively for girls. The only guy friends they had were their boyfriends, ex-boyfriends, previous suitors, or future suitors.
What was life like in an all-girl world?
Sometimes I feel like I missed out on key life experiences by not being in an all-girl group. When I had my first boyfriend in college, the girl friends I was close with were still single, so I had no one to confide in with my relationship dilemmas. Or at least I thought they wouldn’t be able to relate to them. We didn’t comment on whether our outfits were cute or hideous because we didn’t really care for things like that. We never had a girls’ night out.
The thing that really discouraged me from forging friendships with other women was my prejudiced attitude toward it. Being one of the boys, I felt like I was somehow superior to girls who can only be friends with other girls. I scoffed at girls who talk about clothes, makeup and boys because I found them shallow. I clung to that mindset because it’s comforting for me, the okay-looking “intelligent girl,” to think that pretty girls can’t be smart too. In short, like most things in my life, I let my insecurity get the best of me. But once I started pitching my tent in “girl world,” and thanks to the awesome online community of women I found through Hello Giggles, Rookie, and Tumblr, I’m happy to be proven wrong. I allowed myself to care about my looks, talk about clothes, and put on make-up without feeling like I’m dumbing myself down.
What you learn in girl world is that there’s more to clothes and makeup and boys. That a conversation about two-piece bathing suits could turn into a discussion on the liberation of women is a great thing. I’m not saying you can’t talk about such topics with men, but it’s definitely easier to talk to someone who just gets it, someone who wouldn’t cringe at the mere mention of vagina and menstruation.
Women are interested in a variety of things, so having a lot of girl friends is an advantage. You have girl friends you talk to about the latest book you’ve read, girl friends you watch movies with, adventurous girl friends who take you skin diving or spelunking, fancy girl friends who like eating out, girl friends who like to dress up and party, girl friends you shop with, girl friends you can talk to about sex, girl friends you travel with, and girl friends you can trust with your secrets.
I wasted a lot of time believing that being friends with women is full of drama. And it is. But the thing is, friendship in general is full of drama. I’m glad I’m over the phase where I thought I was better than other girls just because I could hold a conversation about anime or play Counter Strike.
Near the end of my senior year in high school, one of the popular girls gave me a note saying that she thought I was cool and wished that we could’ve been friends. And if I were as confident as I am now about being one of the girls, I would’ve written back and told her that I would love to be friends with her.
Maybe then and there, I could’ve stopped seeing myself as being only one of the boys and started joining the fun by being one of the girls.