Let "Best Friend" Refer to Quality, Not Quantity.
One of my neighbor friends from childhood saw my post on Facebook about my recent TV interview on women's friendship. Watching it reminded her of a time when we were kids where she had been in tears as a result of hers and my friendship. In her memory we had all been coloring at the table when I must have announced that I wanted to read out loud something I had written for school. Apparently I had written a story about my best friend. And it hadn't turned out to be her. :(
Of course it pains me to know I caused her to go home and cry! And hearing her share that long ago memory reminded me of my own memory of uncontrollable sobbing in the third grade coat room during recess. I still remember my best girl friend (the one I had read about!) announcing to me one day that she was now going to be best friends with Kristin instead of me. I couldn't be consoled. Drama queen or not, I was convinced life was over.
I Want To Feel Chosen
We do eventually grow up, but the drama around feeling chosen, or not, never quite goes away, does it?
In Elizabeth Gilbert's book "Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage" she lists the losses associated with marriage for women (more likely to suffer from depression, die younger, accumulate less wealth, earn reduced pay, experience more health problems and thrive less in their careers than those who are unmarried) and points to the 50% divorce rates to basically ask the question: why is that we get so consumed with marriage when it doesn't appear to be all that good for us?
Her ponderings included the theory that we all just want to feel chosen. Picked. Wanted. Loved. A wedding allows us to publicly say "Someone thinks I'm amazing." When it comes to a wedding-- we are told that we are the one. The only one. The chosen one. And that feels good. (Even though ironically most of us would be more than happy to have a few more wives/mothers in our homes helping share the workload! LOL)
But Being Chosen Doesn't Have to Be Exclusive
I wish as a little girl I had been taught to value the importance of fostering several different friends. That we didn't have to be exclusive to feel special. That my worth wasn't tied to one girl and who she wanted to play with at recess. That me feeling chosen happened more when I decided to choose others. That the term "best friend" didn't refer to a number, but to how well we treated each other.
As adults we don't want to feel any less chosen, but hopefully we now know that our chosen-ness can include others. And that more important than someone else choosing me, is my own sense of choosing myself, knowing my own worth and value. That security allows my BFF's to have other BFF's without me feeling jealous, knowing their other friendships don't make what we share any less valuable. In fact, research shows that our friendship will be healthier and stronger if she's getting some needs met by others since we are each happiest with 3-7 people in our lives whom we'd consider "confidantes."
Because I love her-- I will want that for her. I will cheer for her when she finds new friends. Friends who have kids the ages of her kids. Or friends who know what it's like to be single again in her 50's. Or friends who can afford to go to the fancy spas with her. Or friends who get excited about her political or spiritual passions. Or friends who can make her laugh. Or friends who live close enough to her to go on a spontaneous walk with her. Or friends who know first-hand how scary it is for her to be starting her own business.
Because I can't do all those things. And that's okay. I don't need to. Even if I could-- she's still better off with a circle of support, with more than just me waving my pom-poms for her.
Best is a quality, not a quantity. Best says we like this-- which is not the same as saying that we have to dislike everything else in order to like this one. Best means that something, or someone, has reached a level of excellence, trust, appreciation. It doesn't mean nothing else can. Like a mother with multiple kids, we can hold love for several without it meaning anything less for any one of them. We are human beings capable of loving many.
To my sweet childhood friend-- please know you were at the center of some of my best childhood memories. You were definitely a best friend. :)
For more on how to foster the kind of friendships we all crave-- here are relevant past blogs: How to Make a BFF and Stages of a Friendship. And here's a 3 minute video that talks about the difference between our friends and our BFF's.