Inspired by the film Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, (released today in select markets with more theaters opening next Friday), which explores the ancient bonds of friendship, HuffPost Women has been celebrating the subject of female friendship in recent weeks.
"Friends 'Til the End" Video Series
One of the female friendship features was their four-part video series "Friends 'Til the End" where pairs of friends talked about their relationship.
Video 1: Co-producers of the Snow Flower film, Wendi Murdoch and Florence Sloan
Video 2: Chefs and authors, Katie Lee and Kathy Freston
Video 3: Law professor and author Amy Chua and investment management executive Anne Ackerley
Video 4: Twins, law professor Suzette Malveaux and CNN anchor Suzanne Malveaux
Each video is around 3 minutes, which isn't a lot of time for 2 people to talk about a friendship, and yet it's enough time to be inspired by many themes that kept repeating themselves from very different friendships.
Four Different Friendships, Four Similar Themes
1. Friendships are very much for adults. Other than the last pair, Suzette & Suzanne Malveaux, who are identical twins, the other three BFF's all met each other as adults. One pair at college, and the other two were through a mutual friend and at a dinner party. And they all have history behind them now -- marriages, divorces, kids, careers, books. The time where their friendships matter is now, as adults, in the midst of their full lives. What they are all talking about is someone who is contributing to their life today because of the time they have put in over the years.
This bears pointing out since we often hold up childhood friends as the ideal friendship. Rather, it's frequently the people we meet along the way that can foster the bonds with us that feel most substantial. It doesn't matter our age, we can still develop a meaningful friendship.
2. Friendships are nuanced with similarities and differences. Indeed, whether it was both being Chinese, both loving food, both being nerds from public schools, or being sisters, each pair felt a commonality with the other; and yet, every single pair mentions some form of surprise in being such close friends. Perhaps it's Kathy Freston and Katie Lee who articulate it the most, pointing out that they are an "unlikely pair" with Kathy actually acknowledging some hesitation about meeting this younger, gorgeous girl who cooked burgers. Amy and Anne used the phrase "opposites on the surface" to describe how different they seem from one another. In both examples, they almost seem more surprised that they actually have as much in common as they now recognize. Even the twins, compelled to forge their own separate identities and facing a more competitive relationship than most of us, embrace their differences in the midst of their similarities. In fact, they express that their disagreements are part of the foundation for their "honest relationship."
Many women are tempted to make the mistake of dismissing the potential in someone else if they seem too different from us. And yet, as we all start sharing our human-ness we can see similarities in the midst of opposites, and differences in the midst of commonalities.
3. Friendships thrive without a sense of expectation. The word "busy" came up over and over and over. Their relationships cannot even be talked about for 3 minutes without acknowledging this truth in their lives: they are all busy. The theme that had to always accompany it was "no pressure." For the co-producers it meant that they could each compensate for the other when one was distracted. For Katie and Kathy they pride themselves on being a "low maintenance" relationship. They don't feel pressure to be anyone other than themselves, they love just hanging out when they can, and they are both okay with time passing without a phone call from the other. That theme was definitely played up in Amy and Annes' conversation where the pressure is so low that they can go more than a year without talking and can announce the birth of a child via email, and feel no guilt. In some ways, all the friends communicated a trust in their friendship because of a lack of expectations that they felt from the other, a recognition of busy lives were not taken personally.
Indeed it is beautiful to have the friends that are there for us, to pick up wherever we left off, even if it was a year ago. And yet, it's also true that we need the friends in our lives that are consistent, participating in our day-to-day experiences. The rub comes not in having the desire for both, but in expecting it all from one person. These women all honor the fact that the other has a full and amazing life, including other friends.
4. Friendships must celebrate each other: All eight of these women are powerhouses in their own ways, but we'd be remiss to think that that would eliminate any cause for jealousy. It's impossible to go through life having everything you want, all the time. What I loved in all the conversations was the sense of respect they each had for the other. They all seem to hold a healthy self-esteem for their own inherent worth that allows them to cheer for the other. The twins use their competition to inspire them to each try new things, pushing themselves to be their best. The co-producers both encourage each other to lean into the parts of their work that they each enjoy. The chefs brainstorm ideas together and acknowledge that they've inspired each other to "meet in the middle" as they've each influenced each other. The college friends, Anne & Amy, both hold the belief that they can "do anything" and the other will be there for them. It's Suzette Malveaux, sister to a CNN anchor personality, that says clearly "We allow each other to be as great as we can be."
When we feel insecure, we tend to devalue others, trying to hold them down to dismiss their achievements from a place of jealousy or fear. These women model that greatness isn't limited, but is in fact contagious. As we enter into relationships where we choose to be inspired by the other, rather than threatened, we create empowering friendships that are worth calling themselves "Friends Til the End."