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Leslie Knope has given us many GIF-able gifts — see: “MEN’S RIGHTS ARE NOTHING” from this week’s perfect episode of Parks and Rec — but few are as precious as Galentine’s Day.
Celebrated on Feb. 13, Galentine’s Day is a day to celebrate the leading ladies in your life — a day to treat yo self and your BFF.
Since the holiday made its debut on the show in 2010, it’s become A Thing — and honestly, it makes me so happy. Especially this year. Fuck Valentine’s Day and fuck Fifty Shades of Garbage. (If you want to know my thoughts on that, head here.)
When it comes to girlfriends, I’m a rich woman indeed. I’m friends with some of the smartest, funniest, thoughtful and most inspiring women you could ever hope to know. I am honoured and humbled to call them friends. They are dazzling.
I’m a staunch subscriber to Ann Friedman’s Shine Theory – if you surround yourself with mega-watt women, you will inevitably shine too. But I didn’t always believe that.
Female friendships are often framed in popular culture as being dysfunctional; when we talk about ‘frenemies,’ we’re almost always talking about women.
We’re taught, early on, that there are few seats at the table, so we must compete with each other — for popularity, for attention, for praise and, later, for jobs, for success. The wonderful Anne Thériault summed up this idea beautifully in a must-read post titled An Open Apology to All The Girls I’ve Been Mean To: “I’m sorry for all of the times that I made you feel as if we were secret competitors for titles like The Smart Girl, or The Funny Girl, or The Writer Girl. I’m sorry that I bought into the idea that there could only be one of each, and that one of us would have to fail in order for the other to succeed.” (For me it was The Music Girl.)
I’ve always had lots of girlfriends. I could never relate to the girls who would claim that they got along better with boys; I’ve had exactly one close male friend in my lifetime, and I don’t see much of him anymore. I’ve had all kinds of friendships. I’ve made bonds with childhood and high school friends that have weathered time and distance, friendships that have grown and changed together.
Some of my closest friends are from adulthood, picked up along the way at college, at work — we’ve been through a lot together. Some of my friends have moved away, and through distance we’ve become closer (long-distance relationships of all stripes take effort).
I’ve had friends with whom I was inseparable for a time, only to drift apart later. Some of those friends I am content to leave in the past. Others, I miss. I’ve been part of many iterations of the Group of Four, that Sex in the City friendship ideal. I’ve had many more successful individual friendships that exist outside a group dynamic.
I’ve also had totally toxic, dysfunctional female friendships, the kind that you don’t realize are poisonous until you are no longer in them. I don’t claim to be an innocent victim, either; there are a few friends whom I regret treating the way I did. (It was almost always because I was jealous or threatened.)
I’m lucky, though. I’ve learned what healthy female friendships look like and just how important they are. To have IRL Leslie Knopes in your life who bring out your very best is an incredible thing. I wish everyone could have the kind of friends that I do.
So, Happy Galentine’s Day, pals. Thanks for everything.