“I don’t think there’s anything more important than making peace before it’s too late.” -Jane Fonda
Friendships have always played an integral role in social change throughout history, specifically within the feminist movement. Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Matilda Joslyn Gage were BFFLs when they initiated the women’s suffrage movement in the late 1800’s, groups of girlfriends would get together and form consciousness raising groups in the 1970’s to educate themselves, and Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards wrote the groundbreaking third-wave title ManifestA together, as friends.
It’s evident that friends are a key component to political causes, but they also play a significant role personally. Over the course of my 21 years on Earth, my friendships have become an essential component to my every day life; there are a number of individuals in my life who I’ve cultivated authentic relationships with and who serve as critical tools to my happiness (and sometimes, my survival).
In breaking the spirit of feminist tradition, one of my very closest friends is a guy. My best friend, Scott*, is important to me for a myriad of reasons. Most notably because we’re able to confide in each other and contribute both a male and female perspective to our friendship. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing like some much-needed girl talk, but friendship with Scott* has been instrumental to my understanding and growing knowledge.He approaches issues differently than some of my gal pals, and our gender differences have greatly enriched our conversations. We’re always learning from each other.
Having a male perspective in feminism and women’s issues is not only beneficial, it’s necessary. Instead of having an “us versus them” mentality, I’ve found it to be far more productive to include both ideologies in the process towards progress and equality. For example, when I talk about gender discrimination in the workplace and only include my amigas, I’m limiting the potential solution to this issue. When I make the conscious decision to speak to Scott* about it, however, I learn a new way of thinking. I’m not claiming Scott* as the token male perspective, because this one dude doesn’t represent the entire male gender. His presence, however, helps ground me and maintain a balanced opinion.
I should mention that even though Scott* is one of my best friends, sometimes we don’t talk for a while. Perhaps this isn’t too foreign a concept for adults living in the real world with full-time jobs and significant others, but we’re just a couple of college students meandering through life. It doesn’t feel completely natural to endure these periods of silence.
Most recently there was about a one month time frame where we weren’t speaking, and it definitely wasn’t on my behalf. I vehemently tried getting in touch with Scott* through all technological mediums: Facebook, text message, phone call, email–you name it, I tried it. There was never an answer on his end, and this was most heartbreaking to me when I was reached out for help regarding a more serious issue. Scott* is my go-to person when I need to vent or garner some valid insight, which was why I felt so disappointed that he didn’t respond to my cry for help.
Fast forward to this past Monday, April 11th: I was snooping around Facebook, just trying to pass some downtime. Scott* finally initiated contact with me, and while I was trying my best to resist conversation, I missed my friend. We started up what was supposed to be a quick video chat and ended up being a two-hour opportunity for an updating session. We skirted around the awkwardness until eventually recognizing the “elephant in the chat room,” if you will.
Stay mad, I thought to myself. Stand your ground. Don’t budge. I didn’t want him to think it was okay to go missing from my life for 30 straight days and expect to just pick up where we left off. (Sidenote: we’re also both extremely stubborn, which only complicates about male/female platonic relationship.)
But then came the apology. The most genuine, sorry-filled, truth acknowledging apology that even I wouldn’t be capable of coming to terms with had I been in the wrong. Honesty is the key to strong and lasting friendships, even when it sucks. What more could I ask for? Jane Fonda had the right idea when she once said to “make peace before it was too late,” because if I let this stupid confrontation linger any longer, it would negatively affect our friendship.
Make peace. The words seared my mind and heart as I stared at Scott* through the computer screen. Why do I need to stay mad at him? People make mistakes. Lord knows I’ve done the exact same thing to most of my friends this year: avoided text messages and phone calls, leaving a slew of unanswered questions and unresolved issues. If I can make peace with Scott*, then maybe I’ll be able to make peace with the rest of my friends I blew off. He’s not perfect, nor am I. We’re all human, and if I want to practice compassion on a regular basis and in its most simplest form, the least I can do is act compassionately towards my friends. In sum: all was forgiven.
This didn’t feel like a huge accomplishment in the moment, but there’s always something to learn from experiences. In this case, I learned to let the petty things go. I need to consume myself with meaningful and important matters, and not worry so much about the minute details. Life is too short not to be happy, and it’s definitely too short not to be on good terms with my best-y.
*Scott’s real name has been changed for privacy and discretion.