Happy Summer Solstice! Tonight I’ll be celebrating the arrival of summer with a delightful group of women. I joined a Pagan women’s group this past winter. It meets twice a month in a local Unitarian Universalist church. I attended sporadically at first, but now I’m a fully involved member, and I love it. The experience got me musing about female friendships.
Ever since I was a child, I’ve felt like I didn’t quite “get” the friendship thing. Early in my life I was shy, and I’m sure that didn’t help. I had a lot of expectations, mostly gleaned from books, about what close friends did and how they acted. But I didn’t really experience it much myself. I wasn’t that keen on fashion, shopping, and gossip (stereotypes I know, but it was the 80s), and felt weird about my bookish nature.
I’ve had a couple of “best friends” at different times in my life, but in both cases it wasn’t a good fit. Much of the time I let myself get swept up in their lives, their dramas and goals, and I set aside my own wants. When I was finally ready to assert my needs (probably not very skillfully), the friendship fell apart. I didn’t know what I was doing, and experienced a lot of pain and guilt.
Since then I’ve had friends or acquaintances I’ve wanted to get closer to, but it hasn’t seemed to happen, or perhaps it’s just happening very slowly. I’m figuring out what type of friend I want to be, and what I want from such a friendship. I understand now that not everyone is interested in the things I most treasure: books, metaphysics, creative expression, and spirituality.
Don’t get me wrong – I do have wonderful women in my life who seem to genuinely like me. It just feels like there’s a sort of distance, that we’re not the type of friends who always keep up with each other’s daily activities. I don’t know if it’s because I’m an introvert, or because I have unusual interests. For a long time I felt bad about it, but now I don’t.
Learning to love myself has changed my view of many things, friendship being one of them. I’m no longer in that place of craving approval and validation. If someone doesn’t like me or what I do, oh well. I’m just not their cup of tea. That in itself is a revelation! And those who do enjoy my company, even if they want to remain acquaintances, I’m good with that. I have friends I see occasionally, and we have a great time together, catching up and laughing. I don’t necessarily need to know what they did each day. It’s enough just to spend time together when our lives allow.
Through my participation in the women’s group, I’ve discovered that there are indeed women interested in the things I enjoy. Also, contrary to what we experience in school, you don’t have to stick with friends of your own age. I’m especially inspired by a vibrant woman in her 80s who casually mentions her drum circle and her writing group. Some of the teenage girls in our unschooling community are really fun to spend time with, and I seem to have more in common with them than their Moms sometimes. I have fun with the performers in my Vaudeville troupe, many of whom are quite a bit younger than me.
Family members can be friends, too. My Mom and I have always been great friends, and my Aunt and I have gotten close again over the past decade, for which I’m very thankful. My daughter, too, is a joy to be with. All three of them are coming to the Summer Solstice circle with me tonight. We’ll share laughter, celebration, and yummy foods. We’ll enjoy the time spent in community with other women, who are our sister friends.