By Marah Stevenson, HerStory Southern California Program Coordinator

When I was younger, I fell victim to the insidious, patriarchal belief that other girls were competition, and therefore, not to be trusted completely. Every friendship with a girl until my junior year in college fizzled out as a result of this mentality. And then, I met Sabina.

One of the most important and influential women in my life, she entered at a time I needed her the most. In college, we supported each other through numerous transitions — from relationships to career choices, we shared in our fears and dreams alike. Ever so outgoing and full of life, compared to my reserved and still nature, we very quickly understood exactly how we filled a space together: with different but complementary energies.

As a child from Kazakhstan who immigrated at the age of four to the U.S., she preserves a clear connection to her cultural roots, never taking for granted her family’s history. At the same time, she maintains an appreciation for her American identity. We find comfort and solidarity in the ways our backgrounds are similar. In the ways they are different, we transform each other, making it possible for us to acknowledge what we already suspected to be true: that tradition and progress can coexist in each of us.

Her strength comes from her resilience, but also her openness to consider all perspectives. I often compare her to the sun, because her positivity is infectious. She’s funny, like really funny, and never accepts defeat. She inspires me to keep going and to always choose myself first.

I love this friendship, and it shows. Anyone who knows us, knows us together, and they are witness to what happens when two women love and support each other unconditionally. I learned how to be a better partner because of this friendship. I learned how to be a better daughter because of this friendship. And that kind of radical love and acceptance, I believe, is readily available for all women. They just have the courage to show up in their relationships, authentic and vulnerable. I feel incredibly blessed that our friendship, our energy, and our delight in each other comes so naturally.