The Power of your Girl Gang

Back in November when I covered the HerCampus uOttawa Aspire Conference, one of the speakers Ashley Lemmon spoke of the benefits of having a strong girl gang on your side for everything you do. She had come by the idea in Sophia Amoruso’s book Girl Boss, and it had really stuck with her. Having read Sophia’s book, when Ashley brought it up during her talk I noted it as a key point, but for me personally I kind of just thought, “okay...ya, important to have good friends”, but it didn’t really resonate with me at the time. I typically consider myself an independent person. I’ve always competed in individual sports, chosen individual work over group projects, and picked staying in over going out. I’ve always maintained close relationships with my people, but I was never a “group” person. I’m sure there are a myriad of reasons for this, some key ones being: I’m an introvert, I value independence as strength, etc, etc. But, recently, following an epiphany I had while reminiscing and looking at photos, I’ve had a change of heart.

Last semester was probably one of my most difficult yet, I had bit off more than I could chew. I had started a brand new job, entered third year, and took on new major roles in the teams and organizations I was involved in. On top of that, I was sicker than I can remember being in recent memory, which culminated in me completely losing my voice (extremely difficult for me because I never shut up) and spent a lot of time feeling homesick with no time to go home. As an independent perfectionist, it was hard. I didn’t want to let anyone down, and I wanted to do everything, but there were days and weeks where it just wasn’t possible. Often, things felt bleak. In an attempt to make more time for what I deemed “serious” commitments, I tried to cut out the frivolous things in my life, ie. Netflix, going out for dinner with friends, going to the gym - resulting in burnout. No matter what I tried, I couldn’t do everything by myself. I had to start reaching out and asking for help when I needed it, and what I found was that help was there, they were just waiting for me to ask.  

Fast forward to this semester, here we are in the third week, and once again I’m sick (ugh). But this time it doesn’t feel like everything is spiraling out of control, and as corny as it sounds, it’s because of my girl gang. This semester I still have my job, I still have my classes, my team is still going strong, and I haven’t dropped the ball on any of my commitments. This semester, I will be working with my team to host two major competitions, I’ll be taking on a new challenge at my job, and I’ll be prepping to take my Law School Admissions Test in March. None of these things seem insurmountable anymore. What I realized as I was looking at photos from last semester, was that, when things got tough my girl gang was there. I’m independent, but I’m not isolated. I’ve made friends at work who have experience with the task that I am now doing. I have a whole team of people who have talents that will help to host amazing competitions. I have a friend who can push me, while I push her, to make sure we both kill it on the LSAT. I have my person to make nachos and watch Grey’s for the billionth time with, and my people who drag me in to watch a hockey game after class (which turned out to be fun!!), even though I initially just wanted to go home and go to bed.

Your girl gang doesn’t have to be huge. But you should realize that it is there, in whatever capacity. There are people who support you, and are there for you, even though you may not see it at first. Girl gangs can manifest themselves in different ways: maybe it’s the person who kicks your butt to go to the library and study, the person that’s always up for coffee, the one who is there to listen to you complain about that one prof/TA/class that’s got you down, or the one that’s already graduated but still listens to you about student problems. Heck for a lot of us, our mom is even in our girl gang - who else will stay on the phone while you complain about dishes for the zillionth time? School and life can be tough, but try not to underestimate who’s on your side. You can be independent, while being part of a group. Your identity is not erased by others. You don’t have to go through everything on your own. Know the strength of your girl gang.