Female friendship is a funny thing. Watch any popular film or TV series and women are presented in groups – a tribe, a girl gang, squad goals – whatever you want to call it. The implication is that women must cluster and form little packs, then take on the world (and often any other woman in their path) together. This post is an exploration of my experience with that notion, with how not having a ‘group’ made me feel like a failure and with how I’ve come to realise that finding my tribe extends far beyond having a ‘squad’ WhatsApp group. Bear with me, it may be a little word-dumpy. It’s something I’ve been trying (and struggling) to articulate for a while.
The last time I remember having that kind of friendship experience was when I was 9. There was a group of five us and we were best friends; we would meet at the school gate every morning, we would spend each and every lunch or play time together and we even had a handshake and code words. If I’m honest, it was really easy. To start with, I never had to think twice when it came to choosing who to come and play at my house, or who to invite to my birthday sleepovers. Then, at the age of 9, I moved schools and naturally we drifted. From that point onward, I don’t think I would ever describe myself as having had a solid ‘group’ of friends. This isn’t some sob story and I’ve by no means ever been lonely, rather I started to relate to individuals who didn’t usually happen to be intertwined with one another.
It made sense to me, as I became a teenager, to shun the idea of having a girl gang in favour of making wonderful friends in lots of different places. My interests were largely centred in performing arts and although I knew some lovely people at school, most of my friends lived in different towns, went to different schools and were disconnected from my day to day life. For the next 7 years through secondary and sixth form I largely floated between various friendship groups, feeling as though I had to choose one to gravitate toward, but never truly feeling as though I fitted in. That sense that I didn’t really belong made me feel very uneasy and I started to wonder if I was missing out on a Sex in the City style squad.
I began to crave it, and worse still, I began to wonder if people didn’t want to be friends with me. The latter was really silly because I have always had some friends whom I know would move mountains if I needed them to, but choosing who to have over on a Friday night and day dreaming about who you’d pick as bridesmaids isn’t nearly as easy when you’re forcing six strangers together. Until very recently, I have always felt as though I was missing something; where was my WhatsApp group or gals holiday in Ibiza?
It’s taken me into my 23rd year of life to understand that actually, I have exactly what I need and that furthermore, there is never such thing as too many friends and nothing ever stopping you reaching out and making more. In fact, I would whole heartedly recommend it because over the last year I’ve met people who have well and truly filled any gaps I may have feared were missing. I feel as though I’ve found my tribe, but perhaps almost inevitably, it wasn’t flung together by geography and having alphabetically similar surnames on the register. I’d be lying if I said that having a group chat to instantly go to when there’s good news, bad news and a new Queer Eye meme isn’t a wonderful feeling, but I’ve learnt that friendship means so much more than that.
Whether you’re still friends with the exact same group that you met in year seven, twenty years on, or whether your experience has been an entirely different one, frankly it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that you find and fill your life with people who make you happy. And hey, life is rarely like it is in the movies…
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I remember “the gang” 😉 its fun to read your blog and follow what you are up to now. Best wishes Elisabeth
Yes! Awh I loved our group. Thanks lovely, would love to know what you’re up to! DM me! X
This was a suuuuper refreshing post to read!! I’ve always been really good friends with boys, which, whilst they make great companion 99% of the time, I too have felt like I’ve kind of been missing out…
A gals holiday to Zante, yep, none of that. Getting all dressed up with the gals for a night out, none of that either!
But, it’s not necessarily a bad thing!
I love this post so so much. When I was in school I did have a ‘gang’ of girls, but never felt like I really fit in with them, but felt I had to stay with them because that’s all I knew. I think this really affected me then because I never really felt understood! Then through uni I had some really awful experiences with group friendships, and have now come to realise that having just a couple of amazing friends is all I need, and I’m currently feeling more secure in the people who care about me than I’ve felt in my whole life! Sometimes it takes years of waiting to find the best friends, but it’s sooooo worth it.
I genuinely loved reading this. I’ve never had a “girl gang” either! It used to really bother me growing up, because I felt like the “expendable” friend. But I’ve gotten so comfortable with the person that I am, the people that I do have around me, and where I am that it no longer bothers me.
Wow! When I read the title I figured “Yeah, I get you”, but I wasn’t expecting to relate to your words SO much! Especially the part about floating between friendship groups but never really fitting in. If I remember anything from high school, it’s the fact that I never really found where I fit in. Not sure I have even now, but that doesn’t matter so much anymore.
This is one of the major issues facing teenage girls that I work with – I will print a copy of this for my office xxx
I’m exactly the same, I have friends from different groups and don’t have one “squad” or “girl gang” to hang out with either. Sometimes it does make me feel a little lonely but, like you, I know that my friends would do anything for me, as I would for them! xx
I’ve always been the kind of person who has a few really good friends rather than one big group and they’re all quite separate too, it’s my hen do soon though and I can’t wait for them to all meet and hopefully have an amazing time together!
I remember at high school I had a few groups of friends I’d float around. One of them I spent most of my time with. But I never really had a girl gang. These days I have more individual than group friends. They have never met each other. At times I have felt like I’m missing out on something. This was a great read. I’m glad I’m not the only person without a squad.
I think school is such a strange thing to base friendships on because at school you are literally just flung together with a bunch of strangers who you have to be civil with for the next seven years, weather you like them or not.
I found it really difficult at school, especially with girls as a teenager because there was so much bitchiness going on, and the idea we get about life through school is just so unrealistic and different to the real world.
THANK-YOU <3 Gosh i needed to hear this. When i was at university, i was in a "group" (girl gang), yet i was always on the outside. One day, i found out they'd hosted a dinner party and i found out through instagram. In that moment, i realised how dangerous it could be to be so tied to one group, who were all preaching "girl power" but isolating me at the same time. I realise my true friends are the ones who stick by regardless.
Ps: i adore the backdrop, it's one of my favourite places!
Bumble and Be
Loved this post so much Beth and I could really relate. I’ve always felt myself longing for that “perfect” friendship group, but it’s just not as simple as that, is it? I sometimes found it hard to make friends at school, but if I’m being honest I think it’s a million times harder as an adult! x
Bekah | rbekhaj.com
I can relate to this on so many levels. I’ve never really had a ‘girl gang’ and have just floated from group to group. I moved away from home just over four years ago from norfolk to South East London and I still have some solid friends who are always there for me but I have no one that I can just pop round and say hello to when I’m bored and it’s so hard to make new friends as an adults.
Nice to know that I’m not the only one that has experienced it. I always think there is something wrong with me haha.
I can totally relate, but you’re so right about just making sure your life is filled with people that make you happy. Sometimes our friendships might rotate and not remain consistent for long but most likely change is a sign of growth!
I’m so glad that I found this post because I’ve had a similar experience myself and sometimes I still find myself feeling left out when I see girls from school all going out together. It was really refreshing to know someone had the same experiences but looks at it positively. I loved reading this so much x x
Great post with some penitent points.
GR | https://www.thegreat.uk/
YES! YOU ARE ME! I never did too and kind of floated about. my sister has a large group of friends and it made me feel like i was doing something wrong.
Ive learned that the select few friends i do have i love to pieces and are so loyal and thats what matters!
What an interesting post. Growing up, I didn’t have a girl gang and I always had issues forming friendships with making friends. Same thing at university. Luckily, I have a wonderful group of girlfriends that I met at sixth form.
I often feel that theres a little stigma behind girls who hang out with only guys too. Its not that I hated girls, I WANTED girl pals so bad and a lil girl gang (like you said) but I ended up gravitating in the end towards a large boy gang of 8! (being the only girl) and I don’t know, I really feel this puts girls off (back in school that is) but now I realise it’s all worked out and some of my boys are still in my life now. P.S: I’d be lying if I said I still didn’t want a girl gang now at 26. Haha x
Loved reading this Beth, and can totally relate to it! Always felt slightly on the outside looking in..but not always a bad place to be … 💕 xx
This is such a beautifully written and important post. I have had a very similar experience and I have the same stance and you on it – it’s odd how much pressure there is to be part of a group, when you actually learn so much more and develop more depth by having friends across the world. It makes you and your friendships so much more multidimensional.
I’m so glad I found someone who gets it! Thank you so much for sharing, Beth.
Sending you good vibes for a wonderful week!
Nati x | http://www.curatedbynati.com | @curatedbynati
I can so much relate I met my gang quite late, four years ago at Uni and before I was always a bit sad when people were talking of their friends they have been friends with since they were baby ! However even if I have the whatsapp group I don’t have the travel anymore because we are all all over the world working in internship which is a bit sad !
To be honest I think it is so important to met new and different people rather than having 1 single group of friends ! Your pictures look amazing and after reading the comment of this post you might not have a girl gang IRL but you have a wonderful community !
I can really relate to this post so much! I’ve never had a ‘girl gang’ and have felt like I’m missing out on it a few times (like the getting ready to go on a night out together, the gals holidays, brunches etc), but I just have to remind myself that the individual friends that I’ve got are enough and mean so much to me. Such a great post! Thanks for voicing about the issue! xx
I’ve felt the same for the longest! Never had a girl gang growing up. I’m in my 30s and starting to make friends with strong women now! We have similar interests, support each other’s dreams and cheer each other now. 🙂
Love reading your posts, Beth! xx
I’ve been feeling the same lately Beth, although mine is because I don’t have many friends at all. I do have 3 friends who I do things with occasionally but we were thrown together by our boyfriends and I don’t quite feel like they’re my best friends. It’s just strange that I came across this post now when I’ve been feeling the absence of friends so much lately. I’m just trying to focus on myself lately and hopefully I’ll feel a little better!
I wouldn’t say I ever had a girl squad. Haha but I always end up having two best friends. It’s weird but true. All of my past friends drifted apart (some of them kept in touch with me on FB, but that’s not the same.) Each friendship i ever had excited for a reason and for that moment. We weren’t meant to stay friends and that’s ok. Thank you for sharing this. It was really nice to read, love!