Women’s relationships have always shaped my life, whether I knew it or not.
Growing up, my mam was a working mother, a nurse. I saw her travel around our county and help people, care for them. She cared for me. My mam turned me into a caring woman. In later years, her career changed slightly, and she entered a senior role. I saw her become a beloved boss, caring for her patients and the staff under her. I volunteered at her hospital one summer, and so many members of staff told me how much they liked and respected her. I learned, from my mother, how to be a calm and compassionate leader whilst still being strong enough and respected enough to lead.
Both of my grandmas helped guide my passions. My maternal grandma taught me how to bake. We’d spend hours in the kitchen, making everything from cornflake crispy treats, to Christmas cakes. She helped me perfect my go-to lemon drizzle cake. She helped me realise that I express my love through cooking.
My paternal grandma nurtured my love of reading. She’d buy me books, or whenever I’d go out with her, she’d take me into a bookshop, never once complaining that I was taking too long. Now, I’m taking a literature degree and writing books of my own. She helped me find my dream.
My cousin helped me realise that I’m actually good at helping people feel better, whether that’s through making them laugh or giving them advice. She’d come over to our house and we’d mess around, or talk through things. She helped me to realise that it was okay being weird, that it was good to be myself.
My GCSE maths teacher showed me that you could be terrifying and compassionate at once. She was a powerful woman, respected by every student in our school, but she was also funny, and made you feel so comfortable. She knew what her students needed to get better, and she helped them.
My GCSE history teacher made me realise that I had a whole lot of feelings. She introduced me to the notion of feminism, and encouraged me to speak up about injustices in the world. She knew when her students were upset by a single glance, and she helped shape me into someone who wants to make the world right.
My A-Level English Language teachers helped me find my voice. The theories they taught me, and the journalistic pieces they encouraged me to write made me realise I could make a difference with my writing. That I could make people think, and maybe even change for the better.
Coming to university allowed me to meet so many new people. I’ve made friends with so many women, all of whom have helped me expand my knowledge and better myself. They’ve helped change my view of myself, helped me gain the confidence that had been trampled on in secondary school. Helped me realise that I’m more than what the bullies convinced me I was. They make me laugh, comfort me when I cry, comfort me without even knowing they’re doing it.
The women in my life have shaped me, and the women in my future will shape me. The patriarchy has tried to pit women against each other since the dawn of time. But women’s relationships still grow. Mothers and daughters. Sisters and cousins. Grandmothers and granddaughters. Wives. Girlfriends. Friends. They nurture and heal. They empower and inspire. Don’t let society tell you that women’s relationships are lesser than. They’re beautiful, and they can be so utterly powerful.