This past weekend I attended a blogging conference, and for the first time I was attending one of these events where I actually knew several other bloggers who were going.
Not only did I know them (either online only or having previously met at other events), but I came to realise that they were the women who make up my girl squad.
Yes, a girl squad – in the truest, most brilliant sense of the word (phrase).
Girl squads and squad goals
A group of female friends is something that’s been completely missing in my life since the age of about 25. Since then I’ve never really realised the importance of having a girl squad. Although Taylor Swift’s may or may not be the type of squad to aspire to (I honestly don’t know that much about hers apart from who a couple of the key players are), she seems to know that having a group of strong women rallying round each other and creating all those #squadgoals is quite empowering.
(I did wonder whether #squadgoals was a negative thing, but it seems they can mean either something you aspire to or something that you’re achieving already and enjoying, so I’ll take the latter).
To explain about the event: The Blognix Retreat is a weekend conference where bloggers of all ages, niches and experience come together to share ideas, attend workshops and listen to inspiring talks from vloggers, life coaches, business women, health experts, and more. It was the first time I’ve been to an event with other 40+ bloggers, in other words, the women I know best online. One blogger I’ve met before once and another several times, but the others I’d been looking forward to meeting for a long time.
I now consider them all to be my greatest allies and the women I look to for support and guidance. The ones that have my back, in other words.
The Over 40 Squad selfie, clockwise from me (bottom left): Michelle of The Barefaced Chic | Lisa of Stylopedia | Nikki of Midlife Chic | Liz of What Lizzy Loves | Michelle of Michelle Tyler | Annette of Lady of Style | Lorraine (blog in the pipeline)
Now since the age of 25, since leaving college and working in jobs where I didn’t mix with large groups of people, I’d pretty much lost having a group of girlfriends. I have girlfriends now, but there’re scattered all over the country and for the most part don’t know each other. So I never, ever “go out with the girls” – there just aren’t any that live locally to me. I live in a part of the country that I don’t hail from and there weren’t many women working at the job I had before going pro with the blog, so a girl squad just never materialised.
Making new friends
The friends I have made through blogging have, without doubt, been the absolute best thing that’s happened to me in the last few years. These women have made me realise that having a group of female friends was something I had no idea I needed. I’d maintained for a long time that men make the best friends and I didn’t need a group of girlfriends in my life. (I went to an all-girls school and loved it, but discovering platonic male friendships at college after leaving school was a revelation for me.)
So what I’m saying is this: If you don’t have (and perhaps don’t think you need) a girl squad, take it from someone who used to balk at the mention of groups of women that it can be an amazing thing. I think TV shows like Sex and the City and Girls perpetuate the myth that all women have a close group of girlfriends that they regularly go to lunch and shop with – many do, but I have a feeling that just as many do not (I was always more Jess from New Girl with all the male buddies).
To spend time with a group – the right group – who share the same interests yet come from totally different backgrounds and walks of life is so enjoyable, and so rewarding. We may have never met before this past weekend but we had so much to talk about right from the word ‘go’. A whole weekend together and absolutely no awkward silences – just constant talking and discussion and laughter. That’s pretty amazing for eight women who had mostly only met each other for the first time a few hours before.
And while we still live in all different parts of the country (and in Annette’s case – in another part of Europe), there’s a common thread that will draw us back together and make us impatient to see each other again as soon as possible – and this time I’d like more to join us. I don’t see this group of women as being exclusive at all, in fact, quite the opposite.
In other (non-Mean Girls) words, You CAN sit with us.
The Over 40 Squad
We all said that if there is another Blognix Retreat next year, we will definitely all be going again. If you are a blogger and would like to go, I can’t recommend it highly enough; sign up to the Blognix mailing list and you’ll be kept informed of future events. I’d love you to be part of our Over 40 Squad (whether you’re over 40 or not) as well and get to know these amazing women as I have done.
Whilst this post was related to a blogging conference, I really wanted to get the message across that having a group of friends that share the same interests as you is as rewarding as it gets. I would never have said before that I was lonely – I adore my husband and truly consider him to be my best friend in the whole world – but I now don’t know how I survived without this girl squad.
Therefore, if you’re in the position that I was in, have a think about what interests you have and where you can go to find women that share those interests. Finding like-minded, interesting and supportive women is invaluable to the enrichment of your life, so consider joining Facebook groups, a yoga class, crafting workshops or an evening class doing something you’ve always wanted to do. I myself took an evening class about 10 years ago with the husband, and we’re still friends with one of the other “students” and his wife.
So to Annette, Lisa, Liz, Lorraine, Michelle, Michelle and Nikki: Thank you for being absolutely wonderful this past weekend, making me (and everyone else) feel truly special and continuing to be wonderful through our online shenanigans. If I hadn’t decided to start a blog on a whim five years ago, I wouldn’t have met you lovely lot and had the pleasure of calling you my friends.
Here’s to all our #squadgoals, and may the next hook up be even better than the last one!
DO YOU HAVE A GIRL SQUAD, AND IF SO HOW DO YOU KNOW EACH OTHER? IF YOU’RE LACKING IN A GROUP OF FEMALE FRIENDS WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE CIRCUMSTANCES THAT CAUSED THAT TO HAPPEN? TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS.
(In case you’re wondering: I’m wearing an ASOS pastel stripe blouse and old yellow trousers)