An Interview with The Big Sister Experience
So, what is a healthy friendship? And what does a healthy friendship look like?
I sat down (over Zoom) with Bianca and Kritz, the two sisters behind The Big Sister Experience, to talk about all things friendship.
Friendship is all about setting boundaries.
Ultimately, setting boundaries will help you maintain a better circle of friends that accept you for who you really are.
We always recommend for girls to have a hobby outside of school that involves people outside their core friendship group. This is the easiest way for girls to extend their friendship groups without causing any drama at school.
At school, we know that there will always be groups that band together.
These possies or cliques are pretty hard to break up at times. We like to encourage an extension of your friendship group, outside of school.
"If you can get involved with a hobby or sport outside of school, there will always be an opportunity to make new friends that can relate to you and your interests".
This seems obvious if they’re involved in the same hobby or play the same sport you already have that in common!
Be a capital H girl
Picture the capital letter H. Now picture your body as one side of the H, your arms outstretched being the bridge welcoming new connections and friendships.
In contrast, imagine a capital A. Imagine your body as one side of the A, leaning on others for support and not being able to stand on your own.
What we’re getting at here is the difference between individuals and how this impacts so much on making friendships.
If you can stand on your own, and be open to fostering new and beautiful connections, like a capital H, you’re more likely to form solid and healthy friendships.
Being a capital H girl is about looking out for other people and yourself. It’s about sticking up for what you believe in and sticking up for your friends.
It’s normal to lose a friend here and there as you grow. But as a capital H girl, you’ll be okay because you’ll be able to stand on your own. You know who you are and what you believe in.
We know how hard this balance can be to create, but it’s about managing compassion and empathy and being a good friend all whilst looking after yourself too.
The two go hand in hand, which brings us to our next point.
"Move towards self-care and self-love and understand that you sometimes need to put yourself first.
Surround yourself with people who put themselves first and understand that you need to put yourself first as well. It is up to us to set ourselves up for how we want to be treated.
That doesn’t mean that you’re selfish and don’t care about others. In fact, when we listen to our own needs and honour our boundaries, we are fulfilled, happy, and eager to support our friends and loved ones. But it all starts with looking after ourselves first!
This is easier said than done, but here’s a newsflash for you…
When people get offended because you don’t want to do something with them that doesn’t interest you, they aren't really respecting your boundaries, and maybe they aren't the best kind of friends to be surrounding yourself with.
Putting pressure on others to do something they don't want to do, is not fair or fun.
Positive emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and Achievement (PERMA)
Let’s talk about incorporating all of these things together, which we hope, will work towards boosting your confidence.
But what does this have to do with building healthy friendships?
Well, with a better sense of yourself and the more confident you are, the more comfortable you will find it becomes to make and maintain friendships.
We like to follow the PERMA model for a lot of things, and we base a lot of our work around this concept.
P stands for positive emotion, so a gratitude practice is a great place to start here. You can write three things down that you're grateful for each day to work towards being a more positive individual.
E is for engagement. Engagement with others, engagement in an activity or engaging with yourself and your feelings.
R is the relationship. The relationships you have with your parents, family, friendships and who surrounds you and works to support you.
M is about meaning. Something outside yourself that you feel you are working towards or doing something positive towards. Whether it’s your part-time job, some charity work or volunteering or doing something for somebody else.
A is for achievement. Working towards something that uses these overall skills has been proven to increase individual happiness and with that, self-confidence.
If you take these things into account when it comes to a healthy friendship, you just might be reconsidering the people you allow in your life.
A healthy friendship is about honesty, support, companionship and respect. Respect for your friend and respect for yourself.
Bianca and Kritz understand a girl’s teen years can be full of change and the unknown. Trying to discover your identity whilst maintaining solid social connections, an education and all the changes that are happening within can cause overwhelm and anxiety – and it can be difficult to know when or how to help.
That’s why the Big Sister Experience offers a course for teen girls covering issues like mindfulness and gratitude, body image, exercise & self esteem, online bullying, your digital footprint, peer pressure, mental well being and how to find and be a good friend. Click here for more information.