Over the years, I've noticed that, as a female, I've really only had close guy friends. I haven't had many friends that are girls to actually call a friend and mean it (besides maybe two at a time or so, and lo-and-behold, they also mostly have only guy friends). I don't tend to get along well with girls, which is perfectly fine with me because having guy friends is way more fun and better suited to who am I. It can cause problems sometimes having so many guy friends, like with a relationship for example, but I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Now, for this article, I've got one of my closest guy friends guest writing for me. He actually brought this idea up to me, and I thought it would be perfect for him to write and take over my Odyssey for a day. So don't be confused by the title when I'm a female and this article is going to come from a male's perspective. Having mostly guy friends, like I said, has its perks, but my friend Tim (who will be taking over in just a sec) wanted to elaborate on the perks of having friends that are girls when he's a guy, for both sides of the friendship.

Soooo, let's begin:

If you were to put on my glasses, you’d probably say that they don’t really change anything for you. Your vision would likely get worse, and you’d wonder why in the world I wear them. We all know, of course, that my vision is different than yours, and therefore I need different lenses to see the world. That’s the overarching theme of this article, and that’s also how I’d like this article to be viewed -- with the understanding that my vision differs from yours. All I know is what I have seen, and what I have seen has led me to slowly mold what I know. So with that in mind, I want to talk about the benefits of having Friends of Opposite Gender (known as FOGs from here on out).

FOGs Help You See Yourself Through Their Eyes

Having an FOG is undoubtedly the best way to understand how the mind of the opposite gender works. If a girl wants to spend time with her boyfriend, but he is tired and needs to sleep, the girl might feel shunned, rejected, and second priority. It's possible that she'll start to think that he doesn't care about her anymore, and that their relationship is slowly falling apart. Thankfully, the girl has an FOG who she can talk about this issue with. After hearing her worries, he laughs and says that sometimes guys need to sleep before doing anything else, even if that thing is hanging out with their loved ones. If the boyfriend has chosen to sleep first, that likely means that he’d be cranky and unmotivated and distracted if he were to skip the nap and spend time with his girlfriend.

Because of the perspective of her FOG, the girl now sees her boyfriend's perspective in addition to seeing herself through her boyfriend's eyes. While her boyfriend certainly could have explained his side better, perhaps she’s overreacted a bit as well. Without having an FOG to keep her grounded, the girl's assumptions and emotions could have gotten completely out of hand.

FOGs Give You Perspective on the Other Gender (Without Romantic Bias)

Initially I was too afraid to post the following lesson I learned because it sounds so monstrously presumptuous and pathetic and even sexist; however, I’ve decided that my openness is crucial to the nature of this article. By having female friends, I’ve learned that women are fallible, imperfect humans like myself and other guys similar to me. Shocking, right? Sadly, at one point for me, it was a shock. See, I thought that to be sexist one had to put women on a lower pedestal and blindly judge them to be inferior, but I’ve since come to understand that it’s equally sexist to put women on a higher pedestal and blindly judge them to be superior.

Growing up, I was not an outgoing, socially-adept person, and if I’m being honest, that ‘was” could probably be changed to ‘am’ on most days. Because of this secluded lifestyle, I knew life solely through my own anxious eyes and those of my one or two other guy friends. As time went on, as I grew up, and as my social habits stagnated, my misjudged fear of women grew stronger. They were too beautiful to speak with me, too affectionate to spend time with me, and too perfect to even be seen with me. Girls were like an enemy that I avoided because of the hidden fear in my own mind rather than an open war between us.

Then, at a summer camp and at the peak of my own awkwardness, a girl sat down across from me, asked me my shoe size, and we have been close to each other’s hearts and lives in the eight years since. One of the happiest, most fulfilling moments in my life was seeing her walk down the aisle to be wed to another close friend while I stood watching, sniffing, and beaming with pride, having all but forgotten that I stood there only because she approached me as a fellow human rather than an untouchable goddess, a figment of my high expectations.

FOGs Are A Fantastic Way to Experience New Things

Here’s a typical day of hanging out with my guy friends: Crack uninhibited jokes, play video games, watch a show that is more time-occupying than entertaining, drink something, maybe throw a frisbee, and go see a movie if anything good is playing. Ladies, I’m sure you can find the monotonous routine relatable, though I’m sure the activities differ. Do I hate doing these things? Not entirely. Do I sometimes yearn for an escape from this tedium, an untread path to explore? Absolutely.

Both of my FOGs are women who crave adventure, who can’t stand to sit, and who are usually pushing me to try new things. By the time my usual friends have a beer cracked and ESPN turned on, my FOGs have their keys in hand and are marching to the door, ready to write a new chapter for the day instead of re-reading the same one. With all credit due to my female friends, I have driven down unfamiliar roads, explored towns that I usually pass through, talked to strangers, tried new hobbies like photography or painting, watched a movie that defies my genre preference, and so much more. My character has been shaped and challenged because of the daring attitudes that my non-male friends possess.

Yet I must wonder if this observation is applicable to all women or exclusively the ones I know. I’ve often felt that I am drawn to those who balance my introvertedness and push the limits of my comfort zones. By no conscious intention, my male friends are completely fine with staying deep in the safety of routine (for the most part), and my FOGs are unable to do anything but the same old same old (for the most part); they must always be discovering and searching and satisfying a longing for more.

. . .and finally, FOGs Will Show You the Harm of Judging and the Advantage of Meeting Strangers

(and how statements I’ve made in this very article are not always true)

Working at a hotel has been an excellent way for me to meet new people that challenge stereotypes I didn’t know I’ve been holding. I have met foreign people and local people, fat and thin, ugly and attractive, light-skinned and dark-skinned, well-dressed and poorly-dressed, carefree and serious, good and bad. And through these unique encounters I have come to believe one simple truth: The ones I judge the harshest have almost always been the ones I get along with the most. I can’t begin to guess how many times the overweight person with the back of their shirt untucked and a coffee stain on their pants and a bald spot on their head has been more kind and approachable and compassionate than the wealthy, sharply-dressed, immaculately groomed businessperson who squeals in in their brand new BMW.

Being friends with a woman has opened up opportunities to meet their friends, who are also women, and through these encounters I have come to understand how much I incorrectly assume things about them. If I were to walk past one of them, who is quite pretty, I would likely think to myself, “There’s no way she would want to talk to me.” Yet as I get to know her, I find that our music tastes are almost identical -- enthralling conversation ensues where otherwise I would have lowered my eyes and quickly walked away. There are others who I assumed to be stuck up when instead I find out that they are exhausted from work; others who seem to have it all together but are actually terrified of the new responsibilities of college.

Even statements that I have made within the past few pages are not always true. While talking to my close female companions for this article, I found out that being around your own gender is refreshing and relaxing in a way that being around the opposite gender can’t be. Sometimes, girls want to wear cute outfits and talk about their hair or makeup and gossip about guys or other girls; sometimes, guys want to drink beer and talk about sports or cars and talk about other girls or guys. And sometimes, girls like doing things that guys typically like and sometimes guys like doing things that girls typically like. Personally, I’ve found that I can’t stand talking about sports, but I can easily become enthralled by watching them (with the aid of a drink or four). My FOGs have told me that they hate giggly gossip, but there are moments when it’s too good to not partake in.

Throughout this entire experience, this journey I’ve only just started, I have come to learn one important thing: There are no unmalleable molds, and there are no unbendable borders. Everybody behaves as expected in some ways, but in other ways they wholly defy the norm. Seek out the defiers, the assumption-breakers, the unique, and you will have stepped through a portal into a brand new world that just might make you a brand new person.