My mother told me that she always wanted a sister, while my brother sometimes reminds me that when I was born he disappointedly asked my mother on the phone if I really was a girl.
There’s something in us that makes us flock to our own. In this day and age I probably shouldn’t say “our own”. People talk about genderless clothes and gender neutral toilets and all that’s grand, but I identify as a girl. I’m part of the tribe and I blooming well love it.
It’s about being apart of the girl gang and I don’t mean the polished type of one that Taylor Swift cobbles together with her so-called celebrity “besties” every Fourth of July. I mean the gang of women you’ve known for years or at least feel you’ve known for a lifetime, when in reality it might only be six months, yet you know they will be there for you no matter what.
In primary school I always wanted a girl gang, the type that you saw on the Sleepover Club where the girls had each other’s backs no matter what, but in reality you’re plonked in with a bunch of children and sometimes all that really bonds you is your similar postcode, love for Home and Away (who knew Australian TV could have such an influence on a pre-teen?) and disdain of a particular teacher.
In secondary school I finally found the girl gang that I always craved and still count them as my best friends today- I’ve known one since nappies, am related to another, have lived with one and am currently living with the other. We’ve seen each other cry over stupid boys whose names we don’t remember, vomit in to handbags and fall on our backsides (I promise those aren’t all me!).
In college, this girl gang luckily extended its branches further and the seeds for some of the best friendships were sown over Snapchat (you know who you are), alcohol, Starbucks lunches, library breaks and cries of: “Does he like me?” thrown in between.
My love for the girl gang began at home. My mother, sister and I are the three musketeers and the best friends anyone could ask for. Loyalty, kindness and seeing the funny side of a situation are only a sprinkling of what I’ve learned from them and hopefully they may have picked up a thing or two from me along the way .
When I think of women I admire, Mary Robinson, Maeve Binchy and Emma Watson are names that spring to mind, but they’ve never caught my hand when they notice me struggling in a pair of towering heels, or call me out when I’m being a brat.
The admiration for the women around us should begin at home and I know a lot of the time that’s not the case. Sometimes women aren’t blessed with beaming mothers or helpful sisters, sometimes it’s the women in magazines that are the best role models and that’s OK too.
My first teacher in school taught me how to read. It was the one thing I could do so easily from the very start. I didn’t have to try. “Hello”, “This” and “Is” were the first words I learned. She paved the way for me and where I am now, as did my two English teachers in secondary school.
I’ve the two best men around me- my Dad and brother and am friends with some lovely lads too, but for me when I’m stuck in a room with randomers at a house party, it’ll be the girl I’ll gravitate towards and say “Hey” to. We link our self-esteem so much to whether a guy likes us or our position on the career ladder or how high our college results are but I know If I had no girlfriends ready to ring at a moment’s notice my confidence would be dead and I’d feel so alone.
I live with two great ladies (and lad!) work with some amazing women and have interviewed countless determined females over the last year. I’m proud to be a girl and believe so much in women power. On this International Women’s Day it’s about learning to cut out self-doubt and believing in ourselves more. It’s about putting your hand out to help your fellow female who may be struggling and it’s about coming from a place of love.
In the next few months we’re going to be tangled in the Repeal the Eighth debate. It’ll inevitably get nasty. Hurtful comments will be thrown like confetti on social media, comments that can’t be mopped or swept away very easily and that have the ability to cut deep.
It’s a topic that divides us and rightly so, but we need to respect each other as women and respect each person’s choice. So, in the coming months I’m asking you to hold on to your sisters and mothers and daughters and cherish the girl gang, it’s all we have. It defines us and sets us apart. It’s what makes us the powerful tribe we’ve always been.