Not One Of The Guys
By Maurishire Akabidavis
What is it about being “one of the guys” that makes a young girl feel attractive? When I was a teenager, it made me feel *cool* to act like I didn’t care about my hair the way other girls did or about how I dressed the way other girls did. I went to football games armed with words like fumble and sack, and I only wore a skirt when mandated by my school’s uniform. There was something about being surrounded by guys, even platonically, that made me feel desirable, if not to the guys in my group, to the guys who saw me surrounded by guys. In my adolescent mind, I thought that being the girl that guys were comfortable around meant being the girl that guys wanted to be around. I thought that the crux of a romantic relationship was being their best friend, which to me meant having the personality of a guy and the body of a girl. I felt like I had cracked some sort of ancient mating code and was going to be rich with boyfriends!
Honestly, it didn’t work that way. I was one of those late bloomers who didn’t date in high school or get their first kiss til their late teens. I had become a little too comfortable with my persona as a guys’ girl and preferred spending time with guys over girls. I would even tell my twin sister that I wished we were fraternal so that she would be a boy, and I could have a brother! To some extent I felt less intimidated by guys. There was little to no drama or envy because of our stark differences. I didn’t feel like I needed to look a certain type of way with the guys, which afforded me a level of effortlessness that wasn’t easily attainable around the girls.
The girls at my school all had things I wanted for myself - shiny, straight hair, slim, athletic builds. There was no one that looked like me, and it made me not want to look like me either. When I was with the guys, though, it seemed less glaring. Of course they didn’t look like me, because I’m a girl, and they’re guys; problem solved! I felt free to be as laid back as I wanted to be with no expectations to meet or standards to abide by. It wasn’t until I went to college and found myself amassing a core group of girlfriends that I realized I wasn’t as comfortable as I thought I was.
College was such a different playing field, coming from a private school with such a close group of classmates that had been together from kindergarten to senior year of high school. The classes were bigger and the groups changed wildly from course to course, which made it difficult to form relationships. It was dorm life where I found my footing. I lived in the cheapest freshman dorm at New York University where there was no wifi or air conditioning and a puke green carpet covered the floors. Each floor was a mix of girls’ rooms and boys’ rooms that offered a variety of personalities. As well as I got along with the guys on my floor, it was the women in my dorm that I really connected with, specifically my roommates thanks to our close proximity and constant contact. I was lucky enough to have four amazing, female roommates that I’m still friends with to this day. Living with four very different women, my time was dominated by a femininity that was somehow vastly different than living with a single mother and a sister. The comfort I felt in that room greatly surpassed any that I experienced in my friendships with guys, and it was something that I wasn’t expecting.
After striving to act as though I didn’t care throughout my adolescence, I went into college planning to care as much as I could - about how I dressed, how I spoke, and how I took care of myself. On my first day of class, I put on so much makeup that I looked like a clown. I shaded my eyelids all the way to my eyebrows in a white setting powder that screamed I’ve-never-done-this-before. I would lay out my outfits the night before, and started incorporating blouses and skirts into my wardrobe. After five years of wearing a uniform, I didn’t have any sense of style.
I say all of that to say that my guys’ girl days were over. I embraced my femininity in a way that I thought would make me look like I was trying too hard in high school with a fervor that was definitely trying too hard. Being around women made me want to be like them, but the pressure of puberty and high school was gone, so they’re attributes were more inspirational than enviable. My girlfriends made me want to be a better me in the same way that my guy friends in high school allowed me to be nothing much, and it only got better after I graduated from college.
As it happens, most of my college friends moved away after they graduated. Making friends in the “real world” was even harder than doing it in college; I lived alone and worked odd jobs here and there to stay flexible as I pursued my acting career, which didn’t result in any constant contact with the same people as dorming did. Luckily, I have family in the area, and through them I was able to join an already tight-knit group of women. I started going to their monthly girls’ nights and was added to their group chat. It was a level of intimacy that I couldn’t possibly have gotten from any of man outside of a romantic relationship.
Now as a young adult woman living in Brooklyn, I don’t find myself vying for men’s attention. I no longer downplay my femininity, and I can count the number of male friends on one hand. My group of girlfriends are as rowdy and down-to-earth as any gaggle of guys, but instead of some light wrestling and dirty jokes, we bond over things like girls’ trips and hair. I feel free to talk about anything with my friends, including different forms of birth control and the best bras for my bust. Whoever said this is a man’s world never had a good group of girlfriends.