I never thought of myself as a girl’s girl until freshman year where, somehow, I found myself entangled with some of the best girlfriends – some of the best friends – that I’ve been lucky enough to have.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always had good girlfriends, but a big chunk of my meaningful friendships have been with guys. My best friend in high school was a guy. We still keep in touch and I recently helped him pick out flowers for his girlfriend.

A change in seasons brought a new era in friendships for me. My college freshman year pummeled me with stressful school demands, time-consuming extracurricular activities and emotionally challenging experiences and relationships – including my first romantic one.

I met a terrific guy the summer before college and we dated our first semester. We were great platonic friends but, admittedly, weren’t mature enough to handle a romantic relationship. When we broke up, and subsequently lost our friendship, I was devastated.

And that’s when the miracle of girlfriends occurred — my girlfriends stepped in for me.

My college gal pals let me cry on their beds and eat frightful amounts of candy. They made sure that I studied for finals and had long talks with me on our dorm’s roof. They made the extra effort to hang out with me. Two of my girlfriends from high school regularly sent me encouraging texts, which were invaluable for the days I didn’t feel good enough to get out of bed.

Not only did I lean on the friends I already had, but in my loss of romance, I gained more wonderful girlfriends. Another girl had broken up with her boyfriend that same week. When we found out, we connected over tear-filled dinners and broken hearts. Those tear-filled dinners soon turned into other bonding experiences where we learned about each other beyond our breakups.

While I adore my guy friends, there’s an innate connection with my girlfriends that is absent from my male friendships. Maybe it’s the candidness about everything and anything. Maybe it’s the shared experiences. Maybe it’s the understanding that we will have each others’ backs and hold each other tightly when necessary — or even when it’s not necessary. It may be all these things or none of these things, but whatever the case, friendships between women are indispensable.

Looking back, I realize I wouldn’t have survived freshman year without these phenomenal friends. I had my faith to lean on, but in my fallibility and faltering strength, these women were my auxiliary. They loved me when I could barely see the beauty and vitality inside myself, and their actions went above and beyond to show that love.

I only hope that one day I can return the favor.