It is so ironic that #nationalbestfriendsday falls on a day like today. During a week like this one, where loneliness and isolation have become such an important and poignant topic.
I have had “best friends” who I don’t talk to anymore. I have friends I just met who are some of the best people I have ever known. I can throw a “best” on any relationship but the true is, I don’t have a “best friend” because at this stage of life, I have many friends filling my heart and my time with joy…versus the label (and pressure) of a select few. Sometimes, I feel insecure about that. So many people wrap up so much in those two little words. Camaraderie, inclusiveness, support. And it can leave some people feeling left out. I feel left out sometimes. But in my heart, the label doesn’t carry the weight. The friendship does. And the most important friendships I have right now come from so many different channels. None of them can possibly stand out among them all as the best. And frankly, some of the “best” ones turned out to be bullshit, anyways.
I have wanted to write about the topic of friendships at this stage in life for a long time. Because I think it’s an important one. But it’s not about the “best” of them. It’s about the impact of them. It doesn’t have to be the person you’ve known since grade school. It doesn’t have to be someone who puts that label on you. It can be someone new or unexpected or someone you haven’t even met yet. As long as that friendship feeds you, fuels you and inspires you with happiness and support. I know women who can’t relate to their best friend anymore. The years have changed them. Politics have changed them. Kids have changed them. I know women who want to befriend someone new but they are intimidated and insecure and hesitant to reach out. They think there isn’t room for new friendships in a life that feels so busy already. And I know people, of course, who have beautiful, incredible life-long friendships that are riddled with funny stories and amazing memories and poignant moments of undying support. It exists, I know. But not necessarily for everyone. And that’s ok.
My daughter is about to go to middle school. Best friends are everywhere. A twosome here, a duo there. And thus far, she has been able to steer her solo ship through all of them, happily. She is friends with everyone. But I know that won’t always be easy. Society teaches us to pair off and sister up and find a partner. Because of that, I know she will have best friends in her future. And some will end up in her past. They will come and they will go. She will come and she will go. But the truth is that enjoying those friendships in the moment is far more important than labeling them in the long term. And I want her to know that and hold it close in the years ahead. To know that the most important part of any friendship is how it makes you feel. In the moment. Regardless of length of time or geographical distance or how you define it. They are the friends who smile when you enter a room. Who ask how you are doing and care to listen to the answer. Who find the time. It's really quite simple. And my hope is that she has plenty of them in her life, at all stages. Young or old. Near or far. Hashtagged or not.