Growing up, I fangirled over the best-friendships that I watched evolve in Grey’s Anatomy, Sex and the City, and Friends. I can’t speak for fictional TV characters, but I’d like to think that Meredith, Carrie, Rachel, and I all have one thing in common: we’d be nowhere without our girl gang.
Through almost every stage of my life, I’ve developed invaluable friendships with some badass women that I’m proud to call my best friends and future bridesmaids. They’ve seen me at my absolute worst (i.e. losing control of my bladder in a public elevator over an inside joke about ranch dressing), and they’ve been there to toast me with a crisp glass of prosecco at my best. We’ve shared endless amounts of pizza slices, belly laughs, tears, pep talks, and terrible fashion fads.
I moved to Chicago in January of 2019 and set up camp in a studio apartment on the 38th floor of a high-rise building. I had grand expectations of what “my Chicago” would be, and it looked a little bit like this: I’m sipping a mimosa on the patio at Cindy’s on a sunny Saturday. I’m absolutely killing it at my new job. I am surrounded by friends, laughing, and chatting about what great adventure (rooftop bar) we’ll seek out next. I’m strolling the Lakefront Trail with my significant other.
*Cue abrupt record scratch*
Here’s what it actually looked like: I was unemployed for two months in a new city. I had no money. I had no social circle. The Polar Vortex showed up uninvited. I found myself unexpectedly single. A perfect storm for a downward spiral. Cut to scenes of me eating my body weight in Half Baked Ben & Jerry’s, posting fire Instagram selfies to portray an unbothered single life, listening to Drake to compound my sadness (why do we do this to ourselves), and sleeping until 4pm because “what’s the point?”
I felt alone and embarrassed that my move away from stability was undoubtedly backfiring. I was failing, and it hurt worse than unexpectedly stepping on a face-up Lego with a barefoot in the dark. When the going got rough and I reached out to my girl gang for some support, I was met with an overwhelming outpouring of love that presented itself in a multitude of ways.
To the friend who insisted on coming over with wine when I was feeling low: thank you for helping me to laugh over some bad reality TV and cheap rosé.
To the friend who provided me occasional reality checks: thank you for reminding me that my situation was temporary, that I had the strength to manifest my own happiness, and that there was more to my life than the mess I was fixated on.
To the friend who encouraged me to “get back out there”: thank you for requesting selfies of me getting ready to hit the town to ensure that I wasn’t alone watching The Notebook on a Saturday night (again).
To my hype woman: thank you for reminding me that I was beautiful, smart, and powerful as hell in the moments when I didn’t feel so beautiful, smart, or powerful.
To the friend who let me vent without judgment: thank you for hearing me in the mess of word vomit that ensued as I attempted to sort out my feelings and for being a soundboard for ideas that I was too scared to share with anyone else.
To the friend who was “just checking in”: It wasn’t “just” checking in. Thank you for making me feel supported and loved when it otherwise felt like the world was moving forward without me.
To the optimistic friend: thank you for painting a picture of all of the wonder, excitement, and (literal) sunshine that was to come.
To the gentle friend: thank you for validating my feelings and for providing me comfort through a virtual GIF hug from halfway across the country.
It took a village to guide me back on track and a million thanks to my girl gang would never be enough. No matter the miles between us, I know that my best friends would go the distance and that is the coolest feeling in the whole world. Let’s raise a glass to the strong women in our lives. Thank you for the endless words of encouragement, for talking us out of impulsive breakup haircuts, and for being the constant in our lives as we adapt and grow. Carrie B. was on to something when she musically stated, “dreams change, trends come and go, but friendships never go out of style.” Amen, sis… we’ll drink to that.