“All successful women have a girl-tribe behind them.”
“Studies show women are happier if they go out with their group of girlfriends weekly!”
Even, “Women should go out with their female friends at least three times a week!”
Articles keep coming across my Facebook feed extolling the virtues of having a “girl tribe,” of the benefits of going out with close friends multiple times a week. I won’t even go into how much I hate the word “tribe” in this context. There is so much support and validation for the women who have this magical group of women who always have their back. If you have a close group of women who you get together with often for activities, that is awesome and I am happy for you! If you don’t? I promise you, you are not alone.
This is for those of you without a group of close friends, looking at those articles, telling you that you won’t be successful. Your mental health is in jeopardy. Your life is not fulfilling. A plague of locusts will descend on your home, possibly.
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Those articles make it seem as though all you have to do is snap your fingers and six women with really great hair and huge smiles holding trendy cocktails will appear around you.
It is really freaking hard to find one true friend, let alone a whole gaggle of them.
Honestly? I find those articles quite sexist. I am complete and fulfilled and successful in myself, thank you very much. Do you see articles telling men they need a group of men behind them in order to be successful?
Friends are difficult to find and even more difficult to keep. We are such a mobile society, changing jobs, changing homes, changing hobbies, changing relationships and life statuses, and friendships can ebb and flow as we change. That is not a bad thing. It is OK to outgrow friendships, for friendships to be just for a season. These articles might make you feel like, in order to be whole and successful, you need to hold onto friendships that are not healthy for you anymore.
Connection is important in life, but it doesn’t have to come from a group of women. It can be one close friend of any gender; it can be a person across the world you connect with online. It can even be found in a beloved pet. Your best friend can be your romantic partner or a family member.
It’s OK to be in a season where you aren’t a good friend. You might have a newborn and your whole world is wrapped up in baby care. You might be experiencing trauma and the healthy way for you personally to deal with it is to go within yourself. It’s OK to be in a season where, frankly, you don’t want friends, because you are focused on yourself and/or your family.
We are all fulfilled in different ways. For some of us, we might require a group of close friends and lots of social outings for our mental health. But for some of us? Cuddled up with a pet and a book, or our child, or our spouse, or chatting with an online friend, or seeing acquaintances at an exercise class, could be all the connection we need for our mental health.
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You don’t need an article to share as permission to go out with your group of female friends. If you want to go out, do it. Do it because it makes your heart happy, not because a rash of internet articles told you it is the right thing to do.
And if staying in, if being alone, or being with one friend or acquaintance makes you happy? Do that. And continue to be the vibrant, successful, independent human that you are.
A version of this article was previously published on the author’s blog.