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I have always been a boys’ best friend, or at least I thought so (I only realised later on that most of them had other intentions…oops).
I thought guys were just simpler to deal with and uncomplicated. With them, there would be no comparison, no competition, no judgemental looks. Male friendships felt liberating, easy, and relaxed.
Maybe it’s because I grew up in a small town in the centre of Italy where girls would always hang out in small groups, creating what seemed to be exclusive tribes. You would be part of that tribe only if you wore the right clothes, had the right hairstyle, and listened to the right music. So if, for example, you didn’t wear Dr. Martens in 1999, you were a guaranteed loser.
We would look like a small army of clones, ready to look down on the girl who came out of town or who couldn’t afford the latest trends. A glance would be sufficient to spot an outsider and they wouldn’t leave them to pass unnoticed. And I was part of the group. I would be amongst those girls who call each other on a Saturday afternoon to check “what are we wearing today?” I was in, but at the same time, I started to see how ridiculous we were. The more I grew up, the more I realised the “blackmailing” mechanism there was behind it all: either you conform or you are out. So I did conform. I wore the right clothes, got the right hairstyle, and bought the right shoes.
I was one of the lucky ones. I was part of the tribe—I had always been—but, even as an insider, I did feel the injustice of it all. I felt bad for the girls who were not accepted into the group and I always suffered the power dynamics. I liked to be on the inside, but I questioned it all. So, next to my group of girlfriends, I always liked to hang out with the boys. With them, I would feel really free to be myself. There was no jealousy, no comparison, no judgment. With them, I would feel free, accepted, and allowed to express myself however I wanted.
With age came wisdom. The older I got, the more experiences abroad I had, the more I realised I didn’t want to be forced to be or look a certain way to feel part of a community. I started seeing that being part of a group of women didn’t mean that we all had to be the same. The more variety and the more experiences women brought to the table, the more I loved being with them. How beautiful is it when you can just be whoever you are? How amazing is it to just be you and feel welcome in a group?
A couple of years ago, I turned 32 and with that came a premature ovarian insufficiency (POI) diagnosis, also known as early menopause. That made me feel like a black sheep. Here I was, about to get married, in my early 30s, going through hormonal changes I shouldn’t have had for what I thought would be another 20 years. And together with that came infertility and the prospect of a life different from what I had imagined and from that of all of my girlfriends.
With the diagnosis, something changed: I started healing the relationship I had with women. I started liking being around them. Women who were there for me with their natural remedies and wisdom. Women who supported me through the menopausal transition. Women who held me when I needed to be held. I realised that being with women could be healing and that my “being different” could be my strength. I learned that despite our different journeys, we are the same at heart. We all need community, support, love, and understanding.
I started surrounding myself with more women, female healers, friends, and colleagues. And I welcomed other women to be held by me in sharing circles, group programmes, and retreats. Connection with other women is now the fuel to both my personal life and my business. I realised that, as women, we need each other to rise in our full power, inspire one another, help one another, and grow stronger together.
So, when I go back to my hometown these days, I still see these tribes of clones in Dr. Martens (yep, they are back in fashion) and miniskirts, and I wish I could tell them, “None of that outer shell matters. Discover who you really are inside and connect with each other from that place. Let go of your armour.”