In the fall, a friend of mine picked me up to go on a drive. Spontaneous yet not uncommon, these mini road trips happen frequently in my college life. On this trip, my friend and I talked out some boy drama and I bought the two of us ice cream.
The next day, I received a Venmo payment from my friend; she’d paid me back for the ice cream, and captioned the transaction as “rtgt.”
I texted her to ask what her caption meant, thinking it was a bunch of gibberish, and she responded, “real time girl time.”
Oh. What did that mean?
I figured it meant what it sounded like, and I thought about how special that time was — sitting in the car, sharing advice and stressors over McFlurries. It was real, authentic conversation – something I needed.
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I began to throw the term around all the time. My friends and I would schedule “real time girl time” every so often where we’d spend time doing our nails, listening to music, going on drives, or getting lunch, all while debriefing some of the things we were wrestling with: assignments, big questions and goals, boys, etc.
While the term seems silly, it became something I sought out consistently. I realized just how valuable real conversations are, as opposed to the fast-paced surface-level conversations of daily life, especially when things get overwhelming and I need someone to turn to.
“Real time girl time” became an occasion to share how my friends and I were honestly feeling and be there for each other. As a college student living on my own for the first time, this practice fostered authentic friendships and filled a need for family support when mine was far away.
As time went on, my guy friends joined in on the trend. They’d complain and ask when “real time boy time” would happen. And, eventually, they made it a practice too.
If things get really tough, we even tap into “real time co-ed time.” This looks almost the same: going on drives, getting ice cream, listening to music, etc. Most basically, it’s just time together that we dedicate to genuine conversation and checking in with each other.
Jokes aside, all this “real time” has nothing to do with gender or exclusivity, but it has everything to do with vulnerability and support in the relationships we most value.
As I reflect, I genuinely think my shift in attitude and dedication to authenticity has made all the difference in my relationships this year. While loosened COVID restrictions certainly made it easier for my friendships to thrive, the opportunity to be “real” and connect with people who want to be equally real has been a huge blessing in my life.
One of the ways “real time girl time” has helped me grow is through the encouragement to share my feelings more openly and ask for help when I need it.
With all that comes with being on my own, I am realizing that I can’t do everything myself. Sometimes heartbreak, frustration, or stress are not things that I can properly manage without the help and support of others. And that’s OK!
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Reflecting on my desire for connection made me think about my spiritual life. One of my favorite prayers is: “Let your God love you.” In my experience, letting my friends know how I’m feeling is a way of letting God love me and support me through them. And on the flip side, being a listener to my friends allows God to work through me.
I have found an increased awareness of God’s presence and love in “real” moments. Even when things are busy or tough, God reminds me he is with me through the loving words and listening ears of my friends.
“Real” conversation comes from “real” friendships, however. While authentic and trustworthy relationships don’t happen overnight, a friend of mine (who took me on that first car ride) always says, “what’s real will find you.”
So when it does find me, I’ve learned to embrace the “real.” I let my God love me through authentic conversation.