College x

My whole life I’ve preferred hanging with guys, but always being the wing woman and never the catch gets old.

The Downside of Being a Tomboy in College

What It’s Like Being “One of the Guys”

My whole life I’ve preferred hanging with guys, but always being the wing woman and never the catch gets old.

By Juliana Neves, Loyola University


Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been a tomboy.

I had a short bowl cut until fifth grade. I wore Dragon Ball tee-shirts and baggy jean shorts. I hated the color pink, and getting me to wear a dress was more difficult than getting me to wear heels. My sister and I were both tomboys and the reigning champions of our local Lego competition as kids (true story).

The Downside of Being a Tomboy in CollegeWhen I was really young, being a tomboy wasn’t really a thing. I was just being me, which usually consisted of climbing trees, not combing my Barbie’s hair. The first time I realized I was different, that I acted differently than other girls, was middle school. Middle school: the time of crushes, one-week relationships and awkward body changes. It’s a time we all try to forget so I won’t revisit those nightmares.

High school was no different for me. Even though I had a boyfriend, I was still “one of the guys.” I sat at lunch with only boys, hung out with the guys on weekends and my two best friends were—yeah you guessed it—boys.

My friend Sean always praised me for being able to “hang with the dudes.” He said I was the “bridge between the girls and the guys,” because I was the only girl who could understand their conversations. Apparently, most girls couldn’t get into conversations about sports, girls and masturbating (not trying to stereotype), but for me it didn’t seem weird.

I had a tougher time bonding with girls about boys and the latest drama scandal, so I found myself talking about last night’s game rather than last night’s Facebook fight. I loved spending time with the guys and was proud to be included.

Just to add to the tomboy persona, in high school I joined an all boys soccer travel league. My boyfriend was actually on the team, but that didn’t stop me. Most of my friends were on it, and I knew I could keep up with the guys if I tried hard enough. After a year or so of gaining respect on the field, the joke was that I was the toughest one out there—and it was true. I was an unstoppable tank. I didn’t care about looking pretty; if a black eye or bruise was necessary, I did what I had to. Once again, I loved every minute of it. I became stronger physically and mentally and I wouldn’t trade a second of that experience.

Still, I wondered what it would be like to have a “girls’ night.” I didn’t have a group of girls to call my besties (frankly, I don’t think I would ever want to), but I did want people who could relate to me. When I was with the guys, I couldn’t complain about my hair tie breaking or my bra being uncomfortable, and as trivial as those are, I wanted someone who could relate to my daily struggles.

I promised myself college would be different.

I would stop introducing myself with a dap, stop using the word “dude” and stop cursing so much.

Shocker, none of that changed.

My first three best friends at college were guys, and we embarrassingly called ourselves “The Crew.” I’m in a soccer club that plays weekly and I am the only girl. I am the only girl who can keep up with the guys when they are drinking (sometimes I can go longer than them), and I’m still the only girl at hangouts.

In college though, I have learned that being a tomboy has more negative effects than it used to.

1. Don’t Expect a Hug

When my guy friends meet other girls, they usually offer a hug or a really, really wimpy handshake. When it comes to me, I get a dap, bro hug or a firm handshake. The type of handshake that would conclude a business transaction—powerful and tough. Guys don’t expect that you want any sort of affection.

2. You’re Either “Man” or “Dude”

As a tomboy, your name usually doesn’t matter. Guys will refer to you with some generic title. Unless you have a cool last name or an even cooler nickname that you got one night out, good luck trying to get someone to actually say your name.

3. No One Thinks You Dress Up

Sure, the majority of my clothing is men’s, but that’s because men’s clothing is comfortable, cheaper and stylish. I’m not paying $50 for a tang top that is selling me more negative space than actual fabric.

I don’t like showing all of my skin, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like to look pretty. I know how to do a smokey eye, run in heels, French braid like no other, and if that’s not enough, I was Prom Queen senior year. I did get my tiara after rushing to eat a buffalo wing, but still.

4. Girls Don’t Like You

Whether out of jealousy or simply the need to not like someone, some girls will not like how close you are to guys. They call you a slut and a whore and frankly, it sucks.

They don’t know that you’re just having burping contests and going on late night McDonald runs, nothing more.

5. Everyone Thinks You’re Lesbian

I wear a lot of flannel and I always want to be ready to play soccer or go hiking. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t like guys. There is nothing wrong with being queer, but having someone (wrongly) assume your sexuality is so frustrating. Clearly, I love men. I just like having a lot of them as friends.

6. Always the Wing Woman, Never the Catch

I am the best wing woman you will ever know. The reality is, I am still a girl and still have feelings. I can’t tell you how many times my guys friends have asked me to help them with a girl, or the other way around. At the bar, people ask me to help them talk to “that really hot girl over there.” I post up with a beer while the girl with the cosmo gets all the attention.

Yes, I love my bros, my homies, my dudes, my best friends. They are hilarious and I could spend hours with them goofing off, but that comes at a price. None of them, and frankly most guys, will never see me more than “one of the guys.”

As much as it sucks, if a boy is intimidated by me, he’s not the type of guy I’m interested in. If being “one of the guys” that means I can throw down a shot of whiskey and chill with my favorite people, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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