There are dozens of women I admire that I could talk about in name of International Women’s Day. There are so many women in the public eye I look up to for inspiration, whose careers I follow and words I try to live by. I love having these women to admire from afar, and I’m grateful they share a part of their lives with us. I’ve even started shining a spotlight on them over on Instagram every Monday morning on Stories; a series called #BrilliantWomen. But today I want to talk about the women in my every day; the women that stand beside me and cheerlead me through life. The Brilliant Women I get to call my friends.

Every millennial woman around has read Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton by this point (and if you haven’t, what are you waiting for?): a memoir that started out as Dolly taking us through her twenties with stories about the men along the way and at the end of it all, resulted in being a love letter to her girlfriends. I can relate. The older I get the more love I feel for my girlfriends. I have great guy friends too and I cherish those friendships in kind, but there’s something about the relationships I have with my close girlfriends that is innately special. Much like Dolly found, they have been the real romantic relationships of my twenties, and I dedicate this post on International Women’s Day to them.

To A, you leave me in awe at how kind, generous and thoughtful you are, whilst also being one of the smartest, quickest and funniest women I know. Everyone loves you and it’s easy to see why. My life would be incredibly different had we not been thrown together 20 years ago. It is an honour to call you my best friend; how lucky am I that you want to hang out with me! You are a Brilliant Woman.

To S, there have been a very finite set of situations that mean we’re still friends two decades after first meeting, including a continued commitment to nuture our friendship on both of our parts. You are far too cool and clever that you should want to be friends with me, but I am so grateful you secretly do (even though we pretend at any given opportunity that we’d really rather see less of each other.) You’re special, and I love how well you understand me. You are a Brilliant Woman.

To J, who is my daily constant and my cheerleader always. You are strong and kind and such a good friend. You give the best advice and seem to know just what I need before I do. Your persistence and hard work that led to you owning your dream business inspires me every single day, and I’m so proud of you. You are a Brilliant Woman.

To L, who gave me so many laughs in our time living together in the little flat that we love. You learn a lot about and from a person when you live with them, and you were a pillar of that ‘living with your friends in your twenties’ dream I’d always had. Flat mate dates, living room dance parties, Madonna and George Michael into the early hours and some truly epic house parties. We’ve had so much fun. I miss all of this but I admire your drive to go after what you want, and I’m proud of you for doing just that. You are a Brilliant Woman.

To M, one third of the Hype Squad – our lives have taken such different paths I sometimes wonder how they crossed and stayed locked together, but I am so glad they did. You have taught me so much. You make me feel stronger and more confident in the way you champion me. Your thoughtfulness never goes unnoticed and you are my favourite person to get post from. You are a Brilliant Woman.

To F, the second third of the Hype Squad, well – look at us. My friendship with you has taught me most perhaps out of any friendships I have. I’m so proud of us! Proof that whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger, because we are the strongest we’ve ever been and I’m thankful to have you as my friend. Life just isn’t as fun without you by my side. You are a Brilliant Woman.

These are the women who have shaped me, who have taught me about love. They help make me feel less alone. They make me feel limitless. We are all different: business owners, high flying executives, mothers, sisters. They are my sisters. They are my sounding board. They are my backbone when I can’t find my own. Whispering encouragement from the sidelines, and shouting congratulations at the highest of volumes. We champion each other and remind each other how proud we are of the other.

We will call each other out when we’re being A Bit Of A Dick, and it will be done with the right balance of sternness and humour. They know what to say to lessen a blow. We respect each other and listen to each other. We learn from each other; we debate with each other and push the other to consider the different sides of an argument. I know I can talk to them about anything, there is no judgement. We love each other in spite of our flaws, through arguments and through times our friendships have ebbed and flowed.

I know that we would walk into battle for each other. They are there through the dark times, the breakups and the losses. I would be lost without them.  They are my people. The Cristina to my Meredith, the Ann to my Leslie. They expect no thanks but I thank them all the same. They are strong, kind, funny, astonishing women and I am so very lucky they are my friends.

Surround yourself with brilliant women. Your girlfriends are so important; never stop investing in them. After all, science predicts they will be around longer than any man. The older you get the less spare time you will have to see each like you once used to. Your paths won’t always be the same and run parallel to each other but it doesn’t matter: if you have chosen your brilliant women well they will always be there. Carve out time for each other even when it’s hard to fit in. Send each other cards in the post. Reel off nine minute voicenotes on your commute so you can hear each other’s voices in your ears. Empower each other; show up for each other. I hope that one day, when the men are all gone, we’ll all live in a house together, day drinking mimosas whilst watching reruns of Grey’s Anatomy. But even if we don’t and instead live in different corners of the world, I know they will still be there. My Brilliant Women.

Follow me on Instagram @burnessie for a Brilliant Woman every Monday.

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