When I was 14, I changed schools. Life at my first high school had become completely unbearable thanks to the treatment of two girls I had considered my best friends. I left the school completely broken. I was no longer the outgoing young teenager I had been. These girls tore down my self esteem, turned the entire year against me and, more than once, threatened me physically. I started failing subjects and often didn't show up to school because I was scared of what would be said to me. I spent most days in tears and was so insecure I could no longer look at myself in the mirror without seeing the worthless, ugly, stupid girl I thought I was.
After 18 months of relentless taunting my parents had had enough. They moved me to another school and I was excited for a fresh start but extremely nervous. On my first day I was approached by a little 5'1" girl who literally skipped over to me and introduced herself as Sammy. She asked if I wanted to sit with her and her friends at lunch. I agreed, but I was so terrified I would say or do something wrong. I didn't want to be betrayed by friends again and, as a result, had my guard up for a very long time.
Eventually I came to trust this group of girls. I went to my first sleepover with them, got drunk for the first time, kissed a boy (and then laughed about it because I was pretty sure I used too much tongue). My confidence grew and I started to believe in myself again. I started doing well in school and thrived under their love and support. I enrolled in drama and musical theatre, things I had always loved but was ostracised from in the past. I even managed to stand up to those girls from my old school with my new friends at my side.
So this Valentine's Day my love goes to you. The girls who changed my life. The girls who gave me confidence again. Who, after 13 years, are still the ones I call when I need a pick-me-up. And Sammy, the girl who came up to me on my first day? She was a bridesmaid at my wedding.
Never underestimate the power of true friendship. I'm talking about those friends you can ugly cry with, whose pimples you can pop (yes, I know I'm disgusting) and whose fridges you can raid. You know those friends you haven't seen in months and when you catch up it's like no time has passed at all? Those are the people we need in our lives. So surround yourself with fabulous women and lift each other up. We are so much stronger together! Be loyal to those who support you and generous with your friendship. Life is hard, but it is so much better, so much more meaningful if you surround yourself with wonderful people.
In the words of Leslie Knope: "Happy Galentine's Day."