I first realized I wasn’t a natural-born squadder in high school. This is a time when you’re supposed to be making "friends for life," but while everyone else was linking arms with their future BFFs, I was in a corner with my nose buried in a book. I always considered myself an old soul, so it was hard for me to relate to the girls my own age. My social life was fine, don’t get me wrong—I had a few close friends and I dated here and there. But when it came down to making plans for the party next weekend, if my best friend wasn’t going, then I wasn’t either. I’d rather stay home and spare myself the awkwardness of forced conversation over cheap beer.
It’s not that I don’t like other people. I do—most of them, anyway. I just suck at small talk. I’d rather have a few close friends that I can have a real conversation with than a squad of girls that gossip about who’s hooking up with whom and where they got their nails done. I always wanted that life. I thought it was some flawed personality that prevented me from having it, but no matter how hard I tried, I could never fit in.
Girl groups have always made me suspicious anyway. What is it about female friendships that make us want to be clones of one another? I didn’t like the idea of being coerced into thinking a certain way or wanting certain things. It seemed like an unfair trade: mold yourself to the image of the group and in return, you’ll be granted membership. It just wasn’t worth it to me.
By the time I graduated high school, I was over it. I had found my place as the kind of girl who was just one of the guys, trading in my girlish desire to squad up for a close-knit group of "buddies." I spent my weekends camping and watching sci-fi movies at the theatre. I became fluent in locker-room talk. I appreciated the easiness of being friends with guys.
I arrived at college with this understanding; I’m just not good at being friends with girls. This all changed of course, like most things do in college. I lived in a traditional residence, AKA I slept five feet away from a perfect stranger for eight months. Naturally, she became my best friend. Throw in a communal shower and suddenly you have yourself a girl squad. There’s something about being in the next shower stall while your floormate is having sex that really bonds you.
It's three years later, and I still have the same three best girl friends. I don’t know if we’re necessarily a “squad” per se, but the point still remains. I’d always felt disconnected from girls my own age because I refused to barter my independence. I didn’t have to do that with my current girl group; we're all vastly different and I think that’s why we thrive.
In high school, all anybody wants is to fit in. Consequently, "squad" becomes synonymous with "clones," featuring groups of girls who walk and talk same, dating the same boys and wearing the same clothes. Female friendships are meant to be about women empowering women, about embracing diversity and building one another up as individuals.