May 2, 2018
Women supporting women is important to me. I grew up surrounded by successful women who supported one another under any circumstance. Life would attempt to get in the way, but these women pushed through the obstacles that stood between them. It inspired me to become the woman that I am. Being the type of woman who can congratulate another woman after watching her succeed is something I am proud of. In a society that can sometimes set us up for failure, we can’t let that become our identity.
At a very young age, I’d say around 3 years old, my mother would constantly tell me that I had to treat people the way I wanted to be treated. My grandmother would tell me to stay sweet in a sour world. I didn’t understand what that meant, but I remember her words as if she was speaking them to me right now. Once I got a little bit older and had to begin my journey through education, I met hundreds of girls who just weren’t taught the same values. At least that’s what it appeared to be. It seemed like these girls were all against each other constantly, and all I wanted was to watch the bitterness fade away.
It didn’t. I went through grade school completely blindsided by the negativity I saw in the female friendships around me. I struggled to find friends that I trusted not to turn on me. I wanted the kind of friendships that I watched my mother, grandmother and sister cherish over the years. I wanted a friend that would lift me up, rather than seeking out an opportunity to tear me down. This all seemed completely out of reach. I felt alone. This went on until I entered the 6th grade and found a group of friends that I could identify with. Sadly, those friendships didn’t last forever due to growth. We grew out of each other and had to figure out where we belonged.
As I matured and began to figure out the type of person I am, I started to find little pieces of myself in the young women around me. My first best friend was and still is a girl named Maria. We clicked instantly. She would tell me the truth when I needed to hear it and even when I really didn’t want to. She supported me through my emotions, failures and my success. She never turned her back on me. Not even for a minute. She values loyalty the way that I do and I’ll always have her up on a pedestal. We never wasted our energy competing with each other. We just accepted one another as soul sisters and let the rest happen naturally. 16 years later, she’s still the person I run to with any news. Good or bad.
Throughout highschool, I went through friends quicker than I went through pens. Maybe I didn’t try hard enough to keep these friendships, but I did what I believed was best for myself. That included ditching the people who betrayed me or made me feel like I just couldn’t be myself. It all makes sense to me. I had to see first hand, what it was to be a bad friend and fellow female. I saw girls do and say terrible things to each other, so I could spot a fake friend from a hundred miles away.
Fast forward to now and all of these struggles have become nonexistent. I now flourish in a world full of women who would rather lift eachother up than carry the weight of jealousy and bitterness on their shoulders. I’ve met some pretty inspiring women on my journey through self love. For instance, Alicia. A woman you have probably seen absolutely killing the self love game. She’s strong, kind, generous and full of love and laughter. She has spoken words of wisdom to me even when I didn’t think there were any words left to describe what I was feeling. She’s a woman that you want on your team. Luckily, she’s on OUR team. The team of women that enjoy watching other women make moves in this world.
Another wonderful woman has made an impact on my life by being the least judgemental person I know. Her name’s Jamie, and she’s a total badass. I aspire to be as carefree and positive as she is. She doesn’t bring people down to lift herself up, even when the opportunity arises. She’s another woman who’s a kind soul with a badass exterior that you can’t help but adore. So much love and compassion held within the body of one woman. Honestly, this one woman has turned my sad mornings into mornings where I roll over in a completely uncontrollable fit of laughter. For that, I will always appreciate her.
Now, there’s one woman on my list of absolutely inspirational women that I must acknowledge. The one and only, Alyssa Michelle. Owner and photographer of Photography by Alyssa Michelle. The woman who has helped to bring us all together in this self love movement. She showed me pieces of myself that I hadn’t seen in a very long time. She uses her talent and dedication to help women see just how strong and beautiful they are. She photographed me just over a year ago and ever since that day, I have changed the way I look at myself on a regular basis. I hope she’s done the same for you. I also hope that you take the opportunity to see yourself through our eyes and let her photograph you. She uses her pain to fuel her art, and to me, that’s the strongest thing a woman can do. Use your sufferings to fuel you to be the powerful woman that you are. Surround yourself with women who inspire you each and every day.
We all need an Alyssa, Alicia, Maria and a Jamie in our lives. All very different with so many things in common. The first thing and most important thing being that we love and cherish the friendships we have built in order to help each other grow in any environment. Let these women into your life and they will become a part of you. You’ll learn so many things about yourself by watching the strong women around you survive through even the most traumatic experiences. I would not be the woman that I am today without them.
Written by Elyse Francine Haro