My high school squad rolled deep. We were a seven-piece package deal. Invite one of us to dinner, and expect to make a reservation for eight. Take one of us on a date (this happened VERY rarely), and you can know that a call to the other six in our group will happen as soon as you and I kiss goodnight.
You get the picture. We were essentially one person divided into seven bodies.
Our squad formed in 2007 before having a #squad was a thing (so hipster of us, I know). We were your #SquadGoals before you even knew you had those. I had a clique, and ain’t nobody was f*cking with it.
In lots of ways, my squad was one of the best friendships I have ever been lucky enough to be a part of. We weren’t the sort of mean, cliquey girls who were constantly talking sh*t about each other and causing unnecessary drama. We really just were seven girls who had an awesome time together and loved each other.
We listened to each other ramble on and on about our first loves and our first heartbreaks. We held each other’s hair back after we learned our drinking limits the hard way. And we spent a million and one sober nights dying of laughter over stupid jokes nobody else would ever find funny.
No matter how old we get or how much life twists and turns, I have a bond with those six humans that will always be there. But the thing is, life went on, and we did get older, and life’s twists and turns did throw us onto different paths. I went to college, and I didn’t have the comfort and security of my seven-girl army. I just had me. And that was terrifying.
But you know what happened when I got past the terror? I found myself. My real self, the one who remained even miles and miles away from her clique. It was like I took my floaties off, and suddenly, I realized I could swim in the deep end all by myself.
I want to make it clear that I’m not trying to shame you for having a squad. I had a squad of my own, and it was, as the kids call it, “on fleek.” I am absolutely not one to judge. I’m just saying that sometimes, great things can happen when you let yourself break free from them.
This doesn’t mean you have to stop being friends completely with your squad. Those girls are still some of my best friends in the world. But being forced to break free from them gave me the chance to see how awesome I can be all by myself.
1. You’ll embrace your individuality.
The one overarching theme I’ve noticed about every #squad out there, including my own, is that the members are forced to be watered-down versions of themselves.
You might have a wild, fiery passion for alternative music, but because your friends never want to go to concerts with you, it’s kind of just something you listen to on the side. You might religiously read every issue of People like it’s your bible, but because your friends prefer to discuss the latest features in Time, your favorite magazine is your dirty little secret.
You get the picture. It’s not that your squad strips you of your passions and distinctions completely. These people are your friends. They want you to be happy, and they want to support you.
But it’s how you see yourself in your own mind that’s the problem. You aren’t just you. You’re one of them. And you guys don’t like alternative music...neither do you.
2. You’ll open yourself up to new people.
Going to college terrified me. It wasn't just that I had a hard time moving away from my squad. My friends had become my definition of “normal.” If a new friend didn’t fit that mold, I had a hard time accepting that person.
But eventually I realized there actually are cool people from all sorts of backgrounds who are absolutely nothing like my friends from high school and still extremely cool in their own rights. They were people I could BE FRIENDS WITH.
And what’s more? All my friends didn’t have to be friends! I could have plenty of separate friends from separate walks of life and that would be totally and completely OK.
If you break free from your squad, you'll suddenly realize how many other forms of normal there are out there.
3. You’ll become dateable.
There was one night my junior year of high school when my girls and I were having one of our extensive late-night discussions about why we're all single and how awesome it’s going to be when we all get boyfriends (LOL, I know we were losers, but at least we were losers TOGETHER). This time, the sleepover was at my dad’s house, and he happened to overhear the conversation.
He sat down with us and gave me a piece of advice that infuriated me in the moment but in retrospect was some of the greatest advice I’ve ever gotten:
Imagine your life is a car, and you’ve got four seats for passengers… you girls are already double-buckling two extra passengers! There’s no room for any sort of boyfriend.
He was right.
Of course, boys were on my mind. But until I was able to free up some space in my life, there would never be any room for them.
4. You’ll start making decisions for yourself.
I still have to work on this. It’s a skill I’ve been trying to hone my entire life. But I can sure as hell say I’ve gotten better at it since I was part of one seven-bodied being.
There was truly a time when I would never DREAM of sending a text message without consulting all of my friends, let alone deciding to pick a major or a job! They knew me better than I knew myself. I trusted them with everything.
But you know who I’ve realized actually knows me better than anyone else on the planet? ME.
5. You’ll become strong.
I don’t need a group text to make me feel supported. And neither do you.