(Photo: The Receipts)
It was during my third year of university that I first started listening to The Receipts Podcast. Every week, hearing Tolani Shoneye (Tolly), Milena Sanchez and Audrey Indome through my Soundcloud account brought me joy while I struggled to finish my dissertation.
In the years since, The Receipts Podcast has become a safe space for women of colour. It’s the place we go to laugh, cry and hear general insights into the day to day lives of other women like us.
Though the podcast mainly focuses on sex and relationships, the trio of hosts also touch on issues like race, religion and mental health. So when the news dropped that they’d be releasing a book, myself and thousands of others were thrilled.
Keep The Receipts – which came out last year and is now available in paperback – spans many of the topics the team are now famous for. But it also has a whole chapter dedicated to female friendship.
HuffPost UK sat down with two-thirds of gang, Tolly and Audrey, to find out what they really want us to take away about love, sisterhood and the bonds with women we make along the way.
You can never have too many friends
“I think the book is a love letter to all the Black women that have loved me, because those are the people who have made me exactly who I am today,” says Tolly.
“They’ve made such a huge difference in who I am. Being African, there’s not many conversations that I was privileged to have with my parents or even my older siblings. So I message my girlfriends because they’ve carved a space for me that’s just mine and I appreciate that so much.”
Audrey echos this and says “my friends are so important to me and I remember people would try and shame me about having so many friends. I’ve spun that on it’s head and I think it’s a positive thing.
“The book was really an ode to my friends, for being able to give them something in print to say: ‘This is how you’ve helped shape my life’. During the friendship chapter, I named all my friends individually and said what it is that they mean to me.”
Friendship break-ups cut deep
Even though female friendships can be a source of joy, we all know the feeling of going through a tough friendship break-up. Tolly speaks about one of her experiences in the book. “We stopped speaking because of a boy and it was just silly. I’d been friends with her since I was like 10 years old,” she says. “I’m really sad that we both don’t get to be in each other’s biggest celebratory moments.”
Audrey emphasises how she prides herself on maintaining friendships, so when one ends, she struggles not to see it as a personal failure.
“Friendship break-ups can be really painful and I’ve had a few friendship break-ups where I had to look at myself and ask myself if I was the problem,” she says. “No one’s perfect and sometimes these things just happen, but it’s sad.”
But it’s never too late to make new connections
The podcast started in 2016 and the trio now have a dedicated audience of international fans. It’s hard to believe that prior to the show, the three hosts didn’t know each other. But it’s clear Tolly, Audrey and Milena have built a friendship of their own.
As a listener, you can hear the bond between the three get tighter as the episodes progress. They start to share private jokes or begin recounting something they’ve experienced together. The podcast and the book really highlight how you can build and grow new friendships at any age.
“I feel like we’ve made a conscious decision to be friends,” says Audrey. “In as much as we need that authenticity to do the podcast we could have just been performative and just been colleagues. But we’ve actually made the effort to be friends and it’s come so naturally as well.”
Being vulnerable (even with friends) isn’t always easy
The hosts’ vulnerability on the podcast is one of the reason’s why it’s so popular. They never hold back from being open and honest, which is why so many listeners can relate to their experiences.
But Audrey and Tolly both admit that vulnerability doesn’t always come easily. They found they had to dig even deeper to lay themselves bare on the pages of the book.
“It was hard drawing on things I hadn’t already spoken about on the podcast,” says Audrey. “At this point, we’d done the podcast for five years and I feel like I told every single nugget of my life and wanted to be really conscious about not repeating myself.”
Tolly adds: “I think all of us spoke about things that weren’t really spoken about before on the podcast. I mentioned my father passing, Milena spoke about sexual assault and Audrey touched on her marriage. I think it was the next step of really being vulnerable, which was quite hard.”
You can’t change mistakes, but you can share them
As a big fan of the podcast, I was pleasantly surprised with how different the book was to the episodes I’ve grown so accustomed to. Though it has familiar themes, I was able learn more about each woman and reflect more on my own experiences.
It’s this cyclical feeling of sisterhood that makes The Receipts so special.
“I feel like I haven’t lived the colourful life I’ve lived and made all these mistakes for no reason. I want young women, especially younger Black women, to read the book and know they aren’t alone in their experiences,” says Audrey.
“I feel like we were all quite purposeful and said solid statements that people can resonate with. Especially the affirmations page, I didn’t have anything like that growing up and I wish I did.”
Tolly adds: “I want anyone who’s reading the book to feel like they have company. I want people to feel like they have someone who just gets it and understands them.”
Keep The Receipts by Tolani Shoneye, Milena Sanchez and Audrey Indome is out now in paperback.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.