Friendship Nancy BerkDid you know that girlfriends impact your self esteem?

Do you remember high school? The uncertainties of fitting in, if the right person/people liked you, dressing like or different than the popular kids. If you didn’t have a great BFF or supportive girlfriend group, high school was probably a tough time for your self esteem.

Per a study by Dove on beauty and The Tending Instinct (a wonderful book on ‘women, men and the biology of relationships’), female friendships make us feel more beautiful. Yep, having girlfriends gives a boost to our self esteem and confidence. (We all know this – we feel completely ourselves, comfortable, accepted and even more beautiful when we’re with our girlfriends.)

For guest blogger, NANCY BECK, a high school reunion was a trip back to the days of insecurities, uncertainties and accessing relationships. Fortunately  she connected with her old girlfriends to make the reunion fun and friend-filled. (Can you imagine doing stand-up comedy in front of your former classmates?! Yikes!)

Standing Up for High School Reunions and Girlfriends

My self-esteem was intact until I agreed to do stand-up for my high school reunion. It seems I had found the secret to re-living high school.  Insert yourself into a situation that requires you to be watched and judged by classmates. Middle-aged reunion comics are doubly disadvantaged because they have to REMEMBER material AND make it relevant to 200 people, 196 of whom they haven’t seen since the late ‘70’s.  Bad stand-up is more anxiety producing than a bad book report because no one goes into book reports expecting to laugh.
My teen warned that reunion stand-up was “comedy suicide” because reunion-goers revert to their old high school selves.  I reminded him that my class wasn’t like that.  I was a grown woman—mature and confident in her own skin.  From what I could recall everyone was nice and should be well adjusted, friendly adults at this point. I asked them to send me high school topics and they obliged.
Female Classmate #1 wrote, “We used to sneak out of study hall and drink.”
I was stumped.  “Really?  Boy, I wasn’t invited to anything!”
Female Classmate #2 phoned,  “Remember our prom dates?”
“Not really, I only went to junior prom because Laura fixed me up with a bag boy at Waldbaum’s.  He wore a powder blue leisure
suit.  I think his name was Steve.”
Suddenly I was reeling in self-doubt. And it’s no wonder, I was headed to a reunion and had no time for dieting or wardrobe obsession.  I was busy writing jokes and nothing seemed funny. Maybe the problem was because good comedy is all about taking risks.  And it’s hard to take risks when you’re trying to impress or be popular. Focusing on humor and letting go of adolescent anxiety, I discovered that the comedy worked.  But more importantly I had reconnected with at least 10 great girlfriends and even if some of us were sporting Spanx, the connections were far from superficial.  It’s been a year since the reunion and since then we’ve stood up against illness and tragedy, we’ve stood together to help worthy pursuits, and we’ve laughed and cried like we were still in high school.  Proof that some of our best stand-up moments are with girlfriends who knew us way back when.

Bio:  Nancy Berk, PhD is Co-host of “Whine At 9, a weekly podcast and daily blog with women’s marketing expert Mary Lou Quinlan.  Nancy is a clinical psychologist and author (“Secrets of a Bar Mitzvah Mom”) whose style has been described as “Erma Bombeck meets Dr. Phil”.  A featured humorist in “Chicken Soup for the Soul”, she is one of the 2010 winners of the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition. She’s been spotlighted in the New York Times about over-the-top bar mitzvahs and interviewed by the Wall Street Journal on how to navigate nightmare double dates. She’s written for MORE.com, Weight Watchers, and scientific publications and is a columnist for SHADY AVE Magazine. An adjunct university professor and accomplished lecturer, she has appeared on television and radio and most recently on stage with her stand-up comedy. Nancy lives in Pittsburgh with her husband Ron, sons Dan and Hunter and dogs Gryff and Bob. Links: http://whineat9.com/  http://www.facebook.com/WhineAt9

Thanks Nancy!

Do you remember High School? What do you wish you knew then that you know now? Did you have a girlfriend group to help you though those potentially emotional and challenging years? Share your experiences and lessons (or your own stand-up jokes!).