The definition of a best friend is a person who you value above other friends in your life, someone you have fun with, someone you trust and someone in whom you confide.
When I was little (and even not so little) I always wanted someone to call my best-friend; that one person above all others who was as devoted to me and our friendship and I was to them.
I am sure this idea was inspired by multiple books and films – Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, Jo and Laurie (Little Women), Rat and Mole (Wind in the Willows) to name just a few.
In primary school best-friends changed by the day, if not the hour, while in junior school they were on slightly more solid ground but still prone to switching. In high school my best-friend also had a best-friend; one apart from me, that is. In college and university it was much cooler to hang about as part of a gang. And then with work and life I stopped thinking about it for a while.
When I was younger I used to mourn the fact that I never seemed to be able to attain best-friend status (or at least the slightly unrealistic notion of what that actually meant). What was wrong with me that I didn’t inspire that sort of friendship? Did it mean I was a bad friend?
What I have come to realise, especially in the last few years, is that, for me, a best-friend isn’t necessarily the best friend. By that I mean, it doesn’t have to be a single person because, if you are very lucky, you will come across multiple people who have the capacity to be loyal, caring, fun, trustworthy and committed – all the characteristics I think of in a best-friend. To “value” one “above other friends in your life” would have meant I would have missed out on some wonderful times.
I have a handful of best friends now – one I have known for 25 plus years and others considerably less – who share the happy times as well as the sad. We all have our own lives, especially as babies have come along, but I know I could call any one of them and they would be there – and I hope they would think the same of me. If I have a problem or something to celebrate, I don’t just tell one person, I tell many. If it’s the first it means I get a range of opinions about what to do (and I can pick the one I like the best. Joke, sort of).
The other beauty is that they each have different interests and skills, which has enriched my life so much. We have joined a gym, drawn naked people in art class, attempted salsa dancing, viewed foreign (and sometimes indecipherable) films, travelled to strange cities, fended off even stranger men and taken a creative writing course, to name just a few.
And then there are the tougher times, theirs and mine.
After I lost my first pregnancy, they all showed they cared but in many different ways, which I found equally comforting. One friend picked flowers she had grown in her garden and left them on the doorstep before texting that she didn’t want to intrude but she wanted me to look at the flowers and know she was thinking of me and was there if I needed her.
Another, despite having her own troubles, sat with me for an hour and talked about what had happened (and at that time I seemed to lack a filter so she got all the detail). She is the only other person who still occasionally mentions my first baby’s name in conversation and it never fails to make me smile.
Then there was the friend who was pregnant at the time of the first and second loss so I didn’t tell her because I didn’t want to cause her any extra stress. A few weeks after she had her baby, I needed to let her know why I hadn’t been to visit and I explained what happened in the hope that she would understand why I couldn’t be around a newborn. I was worried she would be upset or even angry at my selfishness but she messaged me straight back to say she could leave the baby with her husband and come and see me (naturally I postponed because she needed to be at home).
With their support (and counselling) I got through the toughest time of my life. And I hope my support has helped them through some rough times too as well as all the joyful, fun occasions we have shared together.
Clearly, if you have a best-friend you can still have other friends but I would argue that having best friends you value equally (although perhaps in different ways?) is also something to celebrate in books and films – in fact, I would say my life is more colourful as a result. If Freya has a best-friend then fine but I hope she also opens herself to have lots of best friends as I really don’t know what I would do without mine.
What do you think? Have you got a best-friend? Am I missing out?