Merriam-Webster defines a “friend” as “one attached to another by affection or esteem.” The word “attached” here is pretty powerful. When I think of my closest friends, I think of them as family members – I feel physically bonded to them by blood, just like I do my family. I am, in essence, attached to my friends by common interests, humor, and morals. I have a few close friends that I keep very near and dear to my heart. My close friends know everything about me: my fears, my dreams, my obsessions, my thoughts, and my entire life history. They know every guy I’ve dated, they know what makes me laugh, they know what makes me cry, they’ve slept over at my house when I’ve been down, they’ve gone out with me to cheer me up, they’ve seen me without makeup, they text me during the day to see how I’m doing, they send me funny videos and pictures just to make sure I’m smiling, etc. I would give my life for my best friends, and they know this. At the end of the day, my girls make me a better person. I think it’s pretty powerful that you can surround yourself with people who actually motivate you to be better. I’ve learned to stand up for myself, be stronger in my relationships, expect the best from others, and not put up with BS. I’ve also learned to be more compassionate and patient because of my friends. These last several months have been an emotional roller coaster for me. New job, ending a 5 year relationship with the man I thought I was going to marry……..a girl needs good friends when she’s cleaning out her closet so drastically. I have 2 girlfriends, in particular, that are out of this world: Ryan Althoff and Katy Hull. I would lay on train tracks for both of these girls. Ryan has been in my life for about 3 years now. I met her at a posing clinic back in early 2010, right before my first show. I remember being intimidated by her: she was loud (in a good way), self-assured, pretty, and confident. One of the things I love about Ryan is that she’s a straight-shooter. She’ll never BS you, nor will she tell you what you want to hear. Some may not like that approach; I dig it, because that’s how I operate, too. If I ask her about a guy I’m dating, she’ll tell me whether she loves him or hates him. If I ask her if my butt looks fat in a bikini, she will tell me if it does. Why? Because Ryan loves me and wants me to be happy and to look hot on the beach. Katy has been in my life for about the same period of time, and I actually met her through my ex. They worked together, and Jim always told me that I would be best friends with this “hot muscular chick” with whom he worked. Sure enough, I met Katy and loved her. Katy is hilarious, also has a mouth on her, and doesn’t take anyone’s BS. As you can tell, I like to surround myself with strong, no-nonsense women. I think this is because I’m at a point in my life where I’m focused on quality, not quantity. I don’t care about having 15 “BFFs.” I’d rather have 2-3 that I know will be there for me, no matter what. This was a hard lesson for me to learn, and I actually experienced a “break up” with a friend earlier this year. Said friend and I met through competing (shocker), and her life very heavily revolves around the stage. She tends to isolate herself during her preps, which is fine, but she oftentimes doesn’t come out of hiding even after the shows are over. All relationships, however, are 2-way streets. I hate feeling like I’m doing all the work, both with my female friends and with guys that I’m dating. This friend stopped returning calls and texts, so I stopped reaching out. I wanted to see if she’d actually care enough to notice that I was no longer there. She didn’t. It was a hard pill to swallow at first, especially since I was going through a really rough time, emotionally, and needed girlfriends. I felt inadequate: like I wasn’t worthy enough to be her friend. But, as the weeks have gone by, I’ve realized that my life is better without her. I have no time for superficial friendships or relationships at this point in my life. I want to surround myself with people who genuinely care about me, who want to see me succeed, and who want me to be happy. This is not a dig at her: this is a reminder that you’re worthy of having great friends in your life. Don’t ever settle for anything less than the best, including those with whom you surround yourself on a daily basis. My friendship with Ryan and Katy is effortless. I talk to them every day, whether it is on Facebook, on the phone, or via text. I talk to the 2 of them more than I talk with my family. And we talk about things OTHER than competing: my new relationship, their relationships, our pets, our weekend plans, the amazing dinner we had the night before, etc. I even joke around and tell people that I should just date them, because I know enough about them and talk to them more than I do my boyfriend. Even though they live an hour away, we make the effort to see each other a few times a month. These girls are my rocks, they are my most prized possessions, and they are my sisters. So, to all of you who have a Ryan and a Katy in your life, call them today and tell them how much you appreciate them. I know I will. Beth is a former NPC and OCB Figure competitor who has recently decided to trade in her heels for a pair of Inov-8s. Beth is now actively pursuing CrossFit and loves feeling like a true athlete again. Beth spends most of her free time working on her Oly lifts at CrossFit Durham, playing with her dog, and cooking with her boyfriend, who thinks he could win every episode of Chopped.