Thursday, May 10, 2007

I just wanted to tell that the below post was written in a moment of disappointment... Which is no excuse, and I'm still behind what I wrote. What is written is written and can't be taken back, but I don't feel that way anymore. May 21, 2007.

Girls' Code

I have a few regular readers and they make me so happy by coming back often. I only know some of them, and finding out the identity of the others might creep me out, so I want to thank you without asking any questions :) I don't want to disappoint you now, I want to write good stuff.

Today's topic is girl friendships. I'm sure there are books about this, but if they want a new one, they should commission me, for I am the expert. I grew up in a family with many women and relatively few men, and I've always been in large circles of girl-friends. In elementary school we used to have a talent show every year, where we danced to pop songs with my six or seven girlfriends. I was in another group in middle school, and our pastime was to call our crushes out of the blue and break into their lockers, but the group broke in half when we started high school and some of us proved to be more alternative-minded. I got into trouble for my girlfriends, too, I once got a disciplinary warning for having helped a friend write a hate-letter to a boy. Of course there was nothing in that for me, but I guess I was proud that my literary skills were being appreciated. She annoyed me much by crying the whole time we were getting scolded.

Since elementary school, the rituals of girl groups didn't change much. Pyjama parties where everyone tell their little secrets, little comments, little questions that aim to put the respondent on the spot, competition. And all those silly things I told you about. We are all way over 20 now, and still every conversation culminates in one topic. Those girls magazines and soap operas really shouldn't worry about coming up with anything new - we will read the same stories and relationship advice over and over as if we never heard them before.

Looking back on it, I realize how funny it all was. I was reading and writing and attending philosophy olympics and science fairs - and my friends did, too, but we also did those silly, childish, shallow things. It's no different from a gang of boys, who would do anything to belong to a group. We didn't have a mind of our own.

Why did we do that? The girls group provides a comfortable caccoon of social interaction and information. You stand in a hall of mirrors, all those girls in the mirrors understand you, reassure you, encourage you, tell you their weaknesses and desires, you tell them your weaknesses and desires, you find out everybody has the same weaknesses and desires. Everybody is loving and sharing and understanding.

Not always. Sometimes they do or say something that makes you realize that your friend isn't so benevolent, after all. They bring up something you shared with them long ago. They ask you a question and you know they know the answer, but they take the pleasure of hearing it from you. What's the point, I used to ask myself. I always wondered, what's the point in all this meanness? Aren't they scared of losing their friend? How will I trust this girl again?

There's always that underlying competition, there's always schadenfreude, but shouldn't we try to go over and beyond that and genuinely wish each other well? Maybe I'm kidding myself. Too many times I took pride in being better than a girl in something or another. Too many times I was bitter that I did worse than my friend. I tried to hide it as well as I could. When inequalities grew larger, we could no longer sustain the friendship. It was no longer reassuring and comfortable, one of us had grown out of the caccoon.

Maybe this is how it should be. Being good for the sake of being good is out of fashion. People see relationships as sources of personal fulfillment, and they don't feel much responsibility towards a relationship that isn't fun and light. Maybe I shouldn't expect anyone to go out of their way not to hurt my feelings. I shouldn't expect anyone to constrain themselves for me.

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