Do you remember the opening scene in Munchkin Land? As Dorothy carefully, and fearfully, explores her surroundings, she is soon greeted by Glinda, the Witch of the North. The first thing Glinda asks is, “Are you a good witch, or a bad witch?” To which Dorothy responds, “Well, I’m not any witch at all!” This started a road of friendships for Dorothy on her stressful adventures in Oz.
As females, we have a built in code that helps us to evaluate another woman within seconds. In under a minute we can determine if she is a “good witch” or a “bad witch.” We then decide if we will pursue a friendship with her or whether we will stand back from afar and scrutinize everything she does. Try telling a man about our built-in system, and they look at us like we’ve gone off the deep end (even though they do this with other men)!
Despite our tendency to carefully evaluate women, at the end of the day we need each other. Our friends give us support at the end of a long day. They help us to cope with our stress. They empathize with us when our hormones are out of control or the thought of one more load of laundry makes us want to scream into a pillow! Women know when we just need to be listened to while we vent, or when we are looking for answers to our anxieties. It’s not enough to tell another woman, “She looked at me.” We want to know more- was it a mean look? Was it a glare? Was she looking at your clothes? Was she judging you? Was she surprised to see you there?
From research, we know that even weak friendships help buffer the effects of depression in adolescent females. Friendships help people to live longer, and show positive effects on those who are widowed. Children who have disabilities are able to meet milestones to crawl and communicate through the power of friendships. In one study of women who were battling breast cancer, those who had actively participated in a support group for a longer period of time showed less anxiety, depression, stress, anger, and had more support from their families.
When women pull together, there is no end to what they can achieve. From helping a friend to make it through the end of a relationship, to planning a wedding in less than a week, there is no doubt that women can work miracles. Locally, there is an annual event called the Power of the Purse. This event celebrates the power that women have when they come together to work towards achieving goals. Together, they are able to support local charities that help women and children to be successful members of their community.
We crave these stories of women and friendship. Some of the most successful television shows and movies are centered on the friendships and support shared between women: The Golden Girls, Sex and the City, Desperate Housewives, Army Wives, and Steel Magnolias to name a few. When we watch these shows, we become a part of their circles of friendship.
Make the friends in your life a priority this week. Take time to call them regularly. Send them cards or text messages to brighten their day. Remember the times of year that may be difficult for them. And relish in the power of friendship!