One of my life experiences thus far that has shaped me the most in a positive way has been going to an all-girls high school.
I know, I know, you might be scrunching up your face in confusion as to how going to an all-girls high school could have done that, but it is true.
There are a lot of assumptions about all-girls schools, especially when they are also Catholic like mine is, that make people presume these are torturous places that could not at all be enjoyable.
Speaking from my experience it was the exact opposite of this assumption. For four years, I was challenged academically while also being supported by a group of outstanding teachers and peers. Without going to this school for high school I would not be where I am today.
Aside from an education, the other concrete take away I received from my high school was a strong group of amazing friends.
This may also be surprising to you.
Many assumptions surrounding an all-girls school are that it is a dramatic, competitive, catty place where everyone is out to get the other. Admittedly this description may be extreme, but I think for most people who are unfamiliar with all-girls schools this is the first thing that comes to mind.
While my high school was certainly competitive, it was competitive in a way that could be healthy given the right mindset. Instead of competing against my friends for a boy, popularity and other insignificant things, my friends inspired me to be more competitive in the classroom.
I saw the effort my group of friends put into their academics and it made me want to achieve more too. Having classes alongside them we pushed and pulled each other through every exam, quiz, essay, and project no matter how unpleasant but in our small group of friends we put a smile and laugh along with it too.
We also were not ones to over-dramatize things. Shortly after we graduated on a summer evening, the five of us that were together reflected on how fortunate we were to have had no memorable dramatics over the course of our time together in high school.
In fact, the only situation I remember that could be considered "drama" was one day at lunch when one of my friends started crying because she hadn't told another friend that she went to Disneyland over Spring Break. That's it.
Today, my group of friends from high school are scattered across the country but we all still talk to each other and make our best efforts to see each other when we are all home. I am so grateful for this group of people and I realize how fortunate I am that I have a group of women from high school that I still call my close friends.
I am sure there are some people who are reading and thinking that what I have just described couldn't possibly be true, that my memory is putting a rose-colored sheen on things but it is not.
The experience of female friendship I had in high school and continue to have in college is an example of what the modern female friendship is evolving into.
I recently finished reading the newly published book Text Me When You Get Home whose subtitle reads, "The evolution and triumph of modern female friendship." I connected a lot of what the author Kayleen Schaefer had to say in this book that drew upon her own experiences with female friendships and other examples of female friendship in America today.
In reflecting upon what I read and also what I learned as I grew up, the female friendship truly has evolved in very recent years.
I remember being shown documentaries in school that visited adolescent girls in school encouraging them to be kinder to one another and exposed stories of just how mean girls can be.
It is true that meanness in friendship exists and not every friendship is healthy. As adolescents, we all went through phases that our present selves aren't proud of. But we grow past that and in the current generations of women we evolve into women who value friendships with other women.
In her book, Schaefer outlined how throughout history there hasn't always been an emphasis on grown women being friends with other women. For much of history there would be the girlhood friends from childhood, high school, and college, but then once a woman got married those relationships fell away. Instead, a woman was devoted to her husband, home, and children, not her personal life through friendships outside the extended family.
But today, women are stepping out on their own more and more where they grow, maintain, and strengthen relationships they have with other women. There were multiple stories shared in the book about how a husband would tell his wife, "I want you to look at me the way you look at your best friend."
These men were not saying this out of jealousy per say but because they were in awe of the friendships their wives have with other women.
Schaefer even describes how she can have crushes on other women when she meets them purely because she wants to be their friend. As I have come to college, I have met women who I want to know more and crush to be there friend. I am amazed with gratitude when I look at a friendship and say "Wow, I am so lucky so-and-so wanted to be and is my friend."
In modern female friendships, there is a totally platonic love and affection women have for other women in their friendships.
These examples of modern female friendships need to be shouted from the rooftops. If women can cease to be seen as catty, dramatic, and competitive with one another there could be so much change.
The next generation of women, who are in elementary, middle, and high school now need to have strong positive role models of what female friendship can look like and then perhaps rates of bullying, eating disorders, mental health crises can decrease.
Friendship with other women is amazing. For me, it started in an all-girls high school and that serves as proof that women can be friends with women and the love other women have for each other can do powerful things.