“Who is your best friend?” The question was directed at me.
“Er…ah…” I stumbled for a bit trying to answer the question, as I thought about it. “Well, I have a bunch of really good friends, I guess I have 5 best friends.”
“Five! How can anyone have five best friends?” she said incredulously. “There ought to be that one friend out of your five that you can tell your deepest, darkest secrets to…Who is that?”
What’s with the deepest, darkest criteria for a friendship anyway? Can’t we just connect with people without sharing the so-called “deepest, darkest”? And can’t that connection grow and still be an “honest to God”, real, true friendship without the deepest, darkest stuff? This line of interrogation was beginning to annoy me; I felt I was being forced to choose who I like the most and the truth is these 5 chicks, yeah I said chicks, are all special to me on different levels and for different reasons. Why is it that we are always forced to pick just one?
Longevity = True Friendships
Here’s the thing – I don’t want to be confined to any friendship rules. Like the one that says you have to know someone for x period of time before you can call that person your friend. Really? Nah! I don’t think so. I have people who I have just recently met, that I consider friends. Why do you have to be the kid from Elementary School, who I use to kick rocks with, or the girl from High School, who I use to gossip with or even the friends from College, who I use to party with for you to be considered a friend? Why can’t you just be someone I recently met that I share a really cool connection with? I don’t understand the longevity criteria requirement. I don’t have to know you inside out, nor do you have to know me inside out for us to connect on an “I really dig you” level because let’s face it how much do we really know the people we call our friends?
We Have to Have A lot in Common
You and I don’t have to have to share similar interests or like to go to the same places for us to be friends, we just need to have shared values. I have a really good friend, who is nothing like me. She is incredibly quiet and shy and super intellectual and may never have been to a real party in her life. She analyses everything and never just goes with the flow. Yep, she is the total opposite of me but she is my friend. Why? Because we have these really deep, interesting conversations. She admires me, as much as I admire her despite our differences; and in the short time since we met, we have learned so much from each other. That might be part of the reason we get along so well, because of our differences, we each bring something unfamiliar and new into the friendship. I am forever amazed by the way this girl mind works. We aren’t kindred spirits but there is still a connection.
I’m still waiting on one of my 5 to return my phone call from two days ago. This friend is moody as hell, if she’s not in the mood to talk, which is often, she will not pick up her phone, doesn’t matter who is calling. She responds to text messages and calls back when she feels like it, or she may respond to your phone call with a text. (I have a rule that a phone call should be returned with a phone call and not a text, but this friend doesn’t care about my rules.) Yet, she is still one of my go-to 5, because I know if I really need her she is there. I might have to text her 911, but she’ll be there😀. She and I have history, she is fun, she is smart and I like her I-don’t-give-a-damn attitude, because you know I have a bit of that I-don’t-give-a-damn attitude myself. Our friends don’t have to be perfect for our friendships to be real nor do they have to conform to our idiosyncratic rules. My friends sometimes annoy me and I am 100% sure I annoy them. Friendships are not all rainbows and butterflies, sometimes your friends will behave less than perfect and as long as a weird situation doesn’t develop that leaves you wondering if that person is actually your true friend then their imperfections are perfectly okay.
Who says we can’t be friends if we weren’t born in the same decade? There is this notion that a real connection can’t be made if the person is not within your age group. False!
Last Summer, my son, who was then 13 years old announced that his new best friend was his summer employer, who is 20 years his senior. He really liked hanging out with her and looked forward to going to his Summer job every day simply because to his surprise “she is a geek” like him. He was intrigued by the fact that an adult could be into LEGO, video-games and Science experiments like he was. He had made a connection, a real one.
Similarly, one of my go-to 5 is 12 years my junior. It’s a real relaxed friendship, she is one of my favorite people, but she does have an old soul and I am young at heart so we get to meet somewhere in the middle as our friendship blossomed over the years and it couldn’t be more authentic.
Distance and Time
Distance and time have been known to create a void in many friendships, so much so that people believe the misconception that they are no longer “real friends” with someone they don’t talk to on a daily / weekly basis. That is another rule I don’t subscribe to. Not because our connections are few and far between doesn’t mean that our bond isn’t as tight as when we were hanging on a regular basis.
Thankfully, social media has made the World a much smaller place and has facilitated greater, sometimes even meaningful connections. However, we all have that one friend who is just not into social media. Conversations with that friend only take place once or twice a year on your respective birthdays; you’re not in on the day-to-day happenings of your friend’s life and vice versa but believe me when I tell you it doesn’t make the friendship any less than it used to be. Gone are the days when you both use to sit in your dorm room and watch “Sex and the City” and “The Sopranos” and have lengthy discussions about each show afterward. Those were really great times sprinkled with laugh out loud memories but when you both get the opportunity to connect you realize that what you built years ago still has a solid foundation and that bond is irreplaceable.
There are too many rules and guidelines surrounding the definition of a true friend and what friendships really means. It’s unfortunate that society has created a kind of hierarchy, if you will, of friends in an effort to get people to rank their relationships with each other, but the reality is that when you meet a friend you know, whether or not you’ve spent years or days getting to know them, instinctively you’ll know when you’ve made a worthwhile connection.