Thanks to the fictional character Leslie Knope, from the show Parks and Recreation, we have a new holiday focused on doing something I hope we’ve been doing all along: women celebrating the friendships they have with other women in their lives.
I have found that there tend to be two groups of women when it comes to same-sex friendships, as a broad generalization. There are the women who really enjoy their friendships with other women, and there are the women who say “I just don’t get along with women”. If I had to guess where the second group of women came to believe that, I’d turn on Mean Girls for two hours of relatively realistic examples.
The thing is, our relationships with other women don’t have to be that way–catty, judgmental, backstabbing, competitive. I believe that our same-sex friendships can be some of the most valuable and foundational relationships in our lives, as true sources of love, support, and wisdom.
Authors Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman, who co-authored the book, Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close, coined a different, healthier version of friendship called “Shine Theory”. Shine Theory really captures the spirit of Galentine’s Day. They define Shine Theory as “an investment, over the long term, in helping a friend be their best–and relying on their help in return. It is a conscious decision to bring our full selves to our friendships and to not let insecurity or envy ravage them. It’s a practice of cultivating a spirit of genuine happiness and excitement when our friends are doing well, and being there for them when they aren’t.”
The cattiness portrayed in Mean Girls comes from a scarcity mindset–the idea that there isn’t enough to go around. Shine Theory champions abundance–that the love, gratitude, and generosity we give to the people in our lives will only grow.
If you’re thinking to yourself, “Awesome, that sounds great–but…how do I even do that?,” the answer would be: it’s probably going to take some work. In order to truly love and champion the women in our lives, we may need to address our own insecurities and fears. If we are feeling insecure and unsupported, we are more likely to fall into comparison and competition.
We can practice prioritizing connection and seeing others as allies. We can practice loving and celebrating ourselves, as we love and celebrate others.
The second piece is choosing to show up. Creating meaningful friendships takes time and energy, like any significant relationship. In order to really encourage people along the way, we need to be close enough to know what is going on in their world, and vice versa.
So whether you celebrated this year’s “Galentine’s Day” or not, make a plan now to call your girlfriends, send a text, or host a Zoom get-together if you can’t see each other in person! Gratitude is only real when shared.
Let your gal pals know how much they matter to you, how your life is better because they are in it, and that you are cheering them on, in whatever season they’re in. And when we embrace the spirit of Shine Theory, Galentine’s Day is never really over.
Written by: Courtney Hintermeyer