Do you have a best friend? Or does even reading that make you think of middle school (yuck)? We are generally a social society. We start to develop friendships early on in life, and the phenomenon of a “best friend” starts pretty soon. Two girls play together during recess one day and they are “best friends”. They play together for a few more days (maybe even a whole school year!) and are quick to acknowledge the other as a best friend.
Then one day, something happens. Maybe a new girl moves into town and shows up at school one morning. Maybe a classmate gets a new, enviable gift (used to be a pony; now, probably a cell phone). Or maybe there’s a disagreement over who is the best Disney princess. Whatever the situation – BAM. Rupture and no more best friend. It happens in the blink of an eye. The “forever friends” are no longer. There’s a re-shuffling of the friendship deck and before you know it, both of the original girls have new best friends. Or worse, maybe one of them has a new best friend, and the other girl is just feeling left out and alone.
Don’t get me wrong – this is not just about girls (it’s the same for guys) – and it’s not just an elementary or middle school kind of thing. Our friendships change radically and consistently over time. Our friends knew all about us. We share our daily trials and tribulations, and our best friends always know when to pump us up or share the secret stash of chocolate because it was just “one of those days”. You’re totally simpatico, in sync in so many ways, and then life just gets in the way. You move, or have kids, get married or divorced. The friendship starts to fade. And the deck is shuffled again.
I used to wonder each time one of these friendship “break-ups” occurred if I would ever find that true forever friend. The person I would talk to everyday, go on vacation with, who would joke me out of the doldrums and love me even when I was not-so-very-loveable. The person who would always support me, but was also honest enough to tell me when I was about to make a really bad choice (and who would only say “I told you so” in a loving manner when I went ahead and screwed up anyway). Who would remember my birthday and offer to bring me soup if I was sick (I don’t like soup, but it’s a really nice gesture!)
If you’re at all like me, and you’ve had any of these experiences, maybe you’ve wondered, too. Perhaps you thought there was something wrong with you, since you weren’t part of a long-term dynamic duo. Or wondered why things just didn’t stay the same. We had a great time together – why did it change? Worst case scenario, you became convinced that you had some fatal flaw, and that soon enough, everyone in the world would figure that out, since you were the one who didn’t have a best friend. I mean, doesn’t best friend mean from now until the end of time?
There are two vitally important things I learned over the course of my many fabulous friendships:
1. Every single friendship made a radical difference in my life. I just didn’t know it at the time. Each person helped me to grow, even when the growth came through the pain of being left behind for someone or something else. Each friendship opened my heart to new ways to love. Opened my mind to learning new things. Added to the vibrancy of the patchwork of my life. And I wouldn’t be me, now, without each and every one of them. So if I had one best friend my entire life – how much would I have missed? Sure, I would have had the security of the one person who was always there (teaser - #2 has a different perspective on that), but how many new experiences, new thoughts, new feelings would I have never had? You know that idea of traveling back in time and changing one little thing, and then the whole world is different? Exactly true. Without the complete ups and downs of each friendship, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Which brings me to…
2. I need to be my own best friend. And so do you. All of those things that you are looking for in a best friend: talk to you every day – kindly!!, go on vacation, joke when you’re in the doldrums and love you even when you are not-so-very-loveable. Total support, but also honest enough to tell me when I was about to make a really bad choice (you already do this one!), remember your birthday…. YOU are the person who needs to do all of those things for yourself, first and foremost. Not to say that you might not have other people in your life who offer some (or all) of those things, for a period of time (or even forever). But the most valuable, important, fantastic best friend ever is yourself.
The key to being your own best friend is to see yourself, and treat yourself, the way you would a best friend. All those doubting, semi-mean (or really nasty) things that you say to yourself when you’re upset or frustrated – NONE of them are how you would talk to a friend. So, be your own best friend, and be kind, supportive, honest, funny and loving to yourself. That relationship is guaranteed to last your whole life!
Kristina Hallett is a psychologist and shaman at Wisdom Healing. For more information on being your own best friend and to see how you can live the life you’ve been waiting for, contact Kristina by clicking here.