Last week we celebrated Best Friends Day. Well some people did. I can honestly say that before this year I’d never heard of such a celebration. But we seem to have a day/week for everything from gin to bicycles these days, so why not best friends?
I would hazard a guess that this particular celebration originated in the US but even some of us Brits got involved on social media. People posted selfies with their best friends along with a suitable caption about how long they’d known each other and what their best friend means to them.
I smiled at some and cringed at others (social media brings the cynic out in me sometimes). Then I noticed a few people posting a photograph with their best friend, only to post another one hours later with a different ‘best friend’. Is that possible? The word ‘best’ suggests that they are the one and only, surely?
“Who’s your best friend?”
Ever since the tender age of 5, I have felt under pressure to have a best friend. I remember being asked by well-meaning grown ups: “So tell me, who’s your best friend?”
The thing is, I don’t ever remember really having just one special friend; not in childhood nor in adulthood. But I do remember feeling as though I should have one and sometimes, like on ‘Best Friends Day’, I still feel that way.
My history with friendships
I have always had a handful of really close friends. They don’t necessarily know one another and aren’t part of the same group but every one of them has something in common: I could call them at 3am and I know that they would drop everything to be there.
The make-up of that handful might have changed over the years (due to a shift in circumstances, the odd ‘rift’ or a move away) but the principle remains the same: they are a crucial part of my life and I value each one of them deeply.
Beyond that I have a lot of other friends (my husband would say way too many!) who I want to make time for, but sometimes struggle to keep up with. Despite the irregularity in our contact, they are still friends and I often feel guilty that I’m not investing more time in them.
I’ll admit to having occasionally considered paring down the number of people I consider to be friends. Friendship shouldn’t incite guilt, should it? Of course when I’m in my right mind, I realise that makes me sound like a ridiculous narcissist, so instead I opt to be intentional about spending time with each friend when I can, remembering that friendship is a two way street (if you get my drift).
It’s not you, it’s me
I think there are a number of reasons why I choose not to single any of my dear friends out as ‘best’:
- It would put too much pressure on the relationship
- Even at almost 47 years of age, I’m not ready for that level of exclusivity
- I’m a little bit greedy
You see I don’t want to pick just one, because this way I have everything: the friend who makes me laugh ’til my belly hurts; the one who is always up for a glass of Prosecco; the one who listens without judgment; the one with a wise word in every situation; the one who laughs at my stories although she’s probably heard them a thousand times before; the one who reminds me who I am when life is battering me on all sides; the one who respects my values and beliefs even though she doesn’t share them; the one who totally ‘gets’ all the stresses and strains of life with teenage daughters; and the one who understands my insecurities, mainly because she struggles with them too.
It’s probably for this reason that I’ve never felt as though I was lacking in the friendship department. Why do I need one best friend when I’ve got all of this?