My friendship with women has really evolved over the years.
When I was little, I was one of the guys. I did cartwheels and hijacked swings at the playground. As we grew older, they made me play soccer with them even though I absolutely suck at it (present tense because I still do). We played cards together and got into trouble together. We kept secrets and supported one other when things went south.
When we got to junior high, I was convinced that I really couldn’t relate with girls. Everything offended them. They were ‘too soft’. They were different. I had girlfriends though. Some who shared similar anti-female ideals as me, and others who could… tolerate me? when it was time to choose senior high schools, I was naturally inclined towards Achimota. One, it’s in Accra. Two, it’s mixed. And three… well, there was no three. Those were my reasons.
However, a few weeks to make the choices, I changed my mind. I wanted to go to a single sex school. A girls’ school. I wanted to be in an environment where I had no choice but to befriend girls. So I applied to the best girls’ school in the country, Wesley Girls’ High School. I didn’t even know about it. I found out only after asking a teacher for pointers but suddenly, it was all I wanted. Thankfully, I got in.
The first day on campus was… weird. I heard girls singing and drumming to songs that I usually would hear from boys. It was such a confusing experience. Wasn’t this the prestigious girls’ school everyone was talking about? Weren’t they going on and on about how they were all prim and proper? How are they so… normal?
During my stay in WGHS, I learnt a lot of things. Obviously. I learnt about boys. Shocking right? Who would’ve thought that a bunch of girls would be teaching me about boys? But they did! They taught me to look at boys as more than just friends, especially the ones I’d already befriended. They normalized confiding in one another about everything. Thoughts, fears, ideas, family issues, traumas… it was… new to me. Of course, there were a bunch of evil ones who could not bear to see a fellow sister thrive. But that’s on them. Women come in such a beautiful variety, it would be a shame to assume that we are all the same. I say we now because I am a proud member of the sisterhood.
Over the years, I’ve learned that it’s okay to be vulnerable. I am slowly losing the hard guy act and letting others in. Last year, I semi-openly cried in a public place, and I didn’t even care if people saw! Now, I tell people in my life I love them, not in Morse code or as a joke; people who are neither family nor romantic interests. I willingly buy and wear skirts (that aren’t part of my uniform), dresses and handbags because I feel pretty having them. I wear makeup sometimes (because why not?!) and openly gush over generic cute guys.
In all these things, what I am most proud of is the fact that I have girlfriends. Not just girls who are my friends, but girls who mean more to me than the word friend can express. Girls who have my back through thick or thin. Girls who don’t always agree with me, but will fight for me if need be. Girls who believe in me even when I have no reason to believe in myself. They pray for me, encourage me and cheer me on. They more than tolerate me. They love me. And I love them. No cap.
A couple of years ago, if someone told me that I would be one of those girls who openly claimed to have girlfriends, I would have laughed and said I’m more of a ‘boys boys’ girl. I don’t do girlfriends and vulnerability. Yet, here I am, doing exactly that.
Last year, I bought an infinity ring which I almost never take off. First of all, I almost never wore rings. Second of all, an infinity jewellery is pretty common (cliché in fact). But there I was, buying such a thing with my hard-earned money. The old me would have shunned it and gone for something more different. Rare, even. Something you didn’t see often. A one-in-a-million kind of ring. But that is exactly why I got it. To remind myself that sometimes, it’s okay to do stuff that everyone is doing.
It’s okay to share similarities with others. It’s okay to be a girl. It’s okay to wear an infinity ring. It’s okay to like purple or chocolate or romantic comedies. It’s okay to want a guy who kisses you on the head and calls you beautiful as an adjective and a noun. It’s okay to want ‘basic’ things. It’s okay to share the same music taste as every other teenager in the country or to like the same hairstyle as everyone in your office. It’s okay to wear the same shirt as the girl in the bus or wear the same ring as the girl who serves drinks at the café. We don’t have to be different all the time.
Our individual differences may set us apart from the next person, and make us stand out, but it’s our similarities that unite us and allow us to connect on a deeper level. Be proud of the awesomeness of it all, darling. It’s wholesome.
Dr Nyameba 💜