Amelia Blake Garner
Girls Night Out.
This is one of those cases where many people who read this will think “what a bitch”…
Maybe it’s because I grew up in a household with ten daughters…maybe I’ve had my fill of women, in general, because of that…
But I don’t think so.
It just seems like women who need a girls’ night out are missing something inside…and that maybe they should figure out what that is, instead of wasting time partying and complaining to other women about men, other women, their jobs, etc.
I understand that we all need to vent. Saying out loud what stinks is sometimes enough to let off steam. Some more productive suggestions: we might start keeping a journal (it’s fascinating to read them years later), plant a garden, redecorate our personal space, create art, start blogging (ahem), learn a new language, take up painting, learn to cook, learn to dance, or learn to play an instrument. Volunteer at a local shelter or food pantry. At least then we would have something to show for our frustration. Perhaps we’re feeling “off” because we need to change the direction of our lives. Maybe a new career is needed, maybe a move to another part of the country. Wouldn’t it be more fulfilling to focus inward, rather than strive for the approval of the outside world? Some of us never had that approval, and some of us will never have it.
What is a girls’ night out, really? My definition is just my opinion, mind you… For young women, it’s a chance to demonstrate the beauty and glory of your youth. It’s an opportunity to attract men (or other women, I guess). You go out because you want to be seen. You take a lot of selfies with the girlfriends to show everyone that the world is yours. For older women, it’s often a rare chance to get dressed up, go out and try to regain or relive your youth. Let your hair down. Maybe get some attention that you don’t get at home. Or maybe a second or third chance at love, if you’re single. None of which is wrong. So, it isn’t that I don’t understand it. It’s that I wish women wouldn’t do this to themselves. Because ultimately, aren’t we begging for attention? That can’t be healthy.
Now, girls’ night in? That, I am all for.
When women gather with a purpose – say, to plan or to organize something they’re excited about – or to dance, to sing, to create – I am 100 percent on board with that. When people put their heads together to accomplish something positive, there is no limit to what they can do. Especially if you don’t expect to get any public recognition for it. All the better. Do you feel like you need the support of other women who might understand what you’re going through? I completely get that. Venting does help – whether you get sympathy or suggestions, it’s good to get stuff off your chest. Yes, tap the good vibes of your “tribe”.
But do you need to get dressed up and go to a bar to accomplish this?
One of my sisters plans a Sisters Reunion for all of us every year or so. Not all of the sisters show up, but for those that do – we just sit around and talk (and often, cry), sing, cook, do jigsaw puzzles, play games, watch old movies… I thought I would hate it, but I love it. Days of having no real responsibilities and being free to talk and visit without worrying about including kids or husbands or significant others can be cathartic.
But it’s just once a year. Not every week. Not every month. And it isn’t even every year. Perhaps that’s why I enjoy it so much.
There’s a meme going around on facebook that says “Forget the man cave..bring back the study”. In other words, raise the bar a little bit. Men, aim higher with what you do with your free time.
So I ask women to do the same. Go to concerts. Go eat at your favorite restaurant. There’s nothing wrong with getting dressed up and going out with your girlfriends. But pay attention. Are you really enjoying yourself, or are you trying to impress somebody? Are you trying to prove something? Do you feel like you have to be there to prove that you’re a good friend? Do you have to get drunk to have a good time? Listen to what the little voice in your head is telling you. Not the loud one that says you’re a loser and you don’t belong – no, the quiet one that reminds you that you are more than the clothes you wear, the car you drive, or how many friends you claim to have.
It isn’t just that “you’re enough” – as is popular to say these days. It’s that you don’t have to let anyone else define who you are.
I write this, not to pass judgement, but to share with you the questions I’ve learned to ask myself. I hope this helps some people be kinder to themselves.
Or maybe I’m just a bitch.