“Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.” – Albert Einstein

I do not put forth that I have gained a whole hell of a lot of wisdom over the years.  I have spent my fair share of time knocking my forehead against a variety of flat immovable surfaces beyond the point where any claim to productivity could be made.  But, if I have one piece of smarmy-but-true wisdom to pass on, it is this:

Do not ever undervalue your girlfriends.

I have spent my entire adult life in male-dominated professions and male-dominated company.  A good portion of my closest, most inimate friends have been male.  I participate in one of the most male-dominated and testosterone-charged sports around.  My standard answer to my male friends when asked for relationship advice is “Hell, I don’t understand women any more than you do…”

But I never could get through life without my girlfriends.  And I will tell you why.

  1. Girlfriends instinctively know when you don’t want them to fix things.  When you are upset and venting to male friends, they inevitably feel compelled to try to fix the problem.   Sometimes even the quietest of men, when presented with a teary-eyed girl will respond with a veritable encyclopedia of well-intentioned and very sincere advice.  Or they will go out and kill something for you.  As flattering and heartwarming as that may be, sometimes, really, you don’t want advice or killing.  You just want an audience.  No man will sit there and in complete empathy say  “Oh, no!” and “Of course”, and “Oh, I would feel exactly the same!”, and “What a <insert derogatory of choice>!” at all the perfectly timed moments like a woman knows how to do.  And sometimes, really, that’s all we want or need.  Men need to be TOLD when it’s only the sympathetic ear we are looking for.  Women know this immediately and without explanation the minute they answer the phone call in the middle of the night.
  2. Girlfriends can tell you if your butt really does look fat in that dress without having to navigate an emotional minefield.
  3. Girlfriends have the innate ability to answer the middle-of-the-night phone call without saying things that are profoundly stupid or insensitive.   
  4. Come to think of it, Girlfriends have the ability to actually wake up for the middle-of-the-night phone call.
  5. Girlfriends publicly recognize value of the occasional therapeutic shopping trip.  Men know this too, they just don’t admit it.
  6. Girlfriends know that we still love our men.  Even when we bitch.  Mightily.  And they can differentiate the mildly annoying from the dangerously intolerable.  And they will let us know when the line has been crossed.
  7. Girlfriends know how to be enthusiastic about something you really love.  Even when they don’t.  This is an empathy that completely eludes most men.  When you wax enthusiastic about your latest passion, male eyes glaze over, and you know they are reviewing the previous evening’s ballgame or WoW session in their heads.

So, to Amy-Renee, and Bambi, and Charlotte, and Sheila, and Wendy, and my sisters, and all the Sarahs, and all my lovely bloggy Girlfriends reading this:

Thanks.  You are indispensible. 

    April 8th, 2009 at 12:00 pm
    5 Responses to “My advice to young women”
    1. 1
      Bambi Says:

      I love you! Miss you more than words could describe.

    2. 2

      1. A man will wonder, if you don’t want to know how to fix it, why are those sounds coming out of your mouth?

      2.A man can know whether or not your butt looks fat in a dress. He just knows better than to answer the question. In fact, that’s one of the differences between a man and a boy. All men have answered that question. Once.

      3. Nothing is stupid at 3 AM.

      4. Nothing is stupid at 3 AM, because we are asleep.

      5. Spending money in and of itself it not theraputic, and the act of “shopping,” as practiced by women, certainly is not. The activity of aquiring the coolest new gadget, however, always makes one feel better.

      6. I thought the answer was always “if he’s making you unhappy, dump the bastard.”

      7. Uh-huh. Knitting. Um. Free scarves are good.

      Says me: Case. In. Point.

    3. 3
      Duren Says:

      I think I have girlfriends – I don’t know – I’m not sure. Crap, i think that means I’m not very good at being a girlfriend.

      My answers – let’s see:
      1) Um – nope, generally if you are upset, and I am listening, it is my job to solve the problem so that you will stop being upset. No impulses to kill things ‘tho. Mostly my advice boils down to “Get over it, or get away from it.”
      2) Mmmm – nope. I have gotten in trouble for unsolicited truthful statments in the past. (“Gee, you’re fat,” is not appreciated by anyone.) So all requests for “honest opinions” get the tact-o-meter set on high. And i still screw up regularly. Do NOT understand people, much less women, in this arena. (Heck, don’t understand myself regarding personal image…)
      3) Interestingly, no woman has ever called me at 3am. Men – yes. Usually with a problem requiring bail money or a AAA card, but women – nope.
      4) Yep – I can wake up at 3am. And 4am, and midnight, and 1:30am all in the same night. I have a toddler who does not sleep well. I can function on 16 minutes of sleep at a time. however – see above – not tested on girlfriends.
      5) YES! Absolutely! (I have actually been *fighting* the urge to shop lately…oops, nope just bought an HP mini 1000 – I guess that means I succumbed.)
      6) Maybe. I *have* been the listener in this role before, and have expressed concern at certain points, but not sure if I was doing it right.
      7)Nope. Only able to be enthusiastic about stuff that isn’t stupid. And most things i feel are stupid fall in the “girl” category (hair, makeup, clothes, purses, etc.). Anything to do with string or art (cooking included), however – that’s COOL. But so are cars, tools, and explosions. (Knitting is a black art that I admire, but cannot reproduce – my fingers simply won’t cooperate.)

      Um. So. 2.5 – 3 out of 7 sounds like a Fail to me…?

    4. 4
      OS Says:

      Wish there were enough time to get to see you more often . . . Missed you by seconds at war and it made me sad. Maybe this summer there will be more chances . . . Love/Admire/Stand in Awe of . . . You.

    5. 5

      On an unrelated note – does anybody know what’s up with Antique Mommy? I keep getting a 403 forbidden when I try to view her site. I t’s been going on for a while now.