Where have all the Best Friends gone? Remember those elementary days when you had a BFF? She was that one girlfriend with whom you could share everything. Then in High School, you and your BFF were inseparable. Her house or yours didn’t matter, just that you were together. She was your partner in crime so to speak. You shared the good, the bad, clothes, makeup, jobs, homework, the drama of life and the unfairness of parents. You’d stretch that extra-long phone cord under your bedroom door and talk for hours each night after school. You talked about everything! She was your biggest cheerleader and life coach. She may have been there through college or your young adult years or perhaps you had a new best friend by then. Our friendships are fluid and ever changing - but throughout childhood most of us had a Best Friend most of the time. Differences did not matter much to us then (in fact, for a great deal of my childhood, my best friend was a boy) this person had your back. Looking back on my friendships over the years, those that I considered my BFF’s are the ones that I laughed the hardest with, cried the most tears with and were the most honest with. They saw the real me and they loved me anyway.
Now that I’m a woman of a certain age, I look around and wonder- where has my BFF gone? Don’t get me wrong, I have very dear friends (you know who you are) that I love very much. I have a family that I enjoy tremendously and feel very blessed to have in my life. I have a very busy and full life, and wonderful people with whom I share it. Nevertheless, the fact is, it has been awhile since I’ve had a BFF. I wondered if I was the only person who felt this way, so I started asking questions of the women in my life. I’ve found that I am not alone. Some of the women I’ve talked to have said they are just too busy with their jobs, homes, families or volunteer activities to take the time to invest in friendships. Other ladies have said that they have those good friends from years ago but time and distance have gotten in the way of those friendships – it takes a great deal of effort to nurture those relationships. Still other ladies have said as they have gotten older they have lost their friends to illnesses or deaths and their hearts haven’t healed enough to risk themselves again.
Those with whom I’ve discussed this sad phenomenon agree with me that we just don’t have time and energy to invest in a friendship that belongs only to us. Our friends are usually the parents of our childrens friends – we are with each other a great deal because of our children. We are at school, sports, church, or other activities where we volunteer for our children’s activities. We like each other, even enjoy each other, but really we are just casual acquaintances. Why? Because we don’t take the time to invest in a friendship. The same thing happens with work friends, church friends, and our family members who are our friends. We see each other only at certain times and don’t put in the effort to spend time with these people outside of certain events. The result of our laziness is shallow friendships. We all need someone that we can pick up the phone at 11pm (or whenever) and say, “I want donuts, let’s go find a HOT NOW sign and eat till we puke and I DON’T want to talk about why!” I have many friends who would probably go with me, but not many who would not think I’m completely nuts. I don’t know many friends who would participate without asking questions. Probably there aren’t many people who wouldn’t tell their spouse, my mama or my other friends about my weird desire for donuts in the middle of the night.
Every one of the ladies I spoke to agree that we all need that friend who we can call for anything, at any time. That person who will pray with us, pray for us, but NOT add us to the prayer list and gossip mill. I’ve determined that once you reach a certain age, it’s really hard to develop deep friendships. We have so many responsibilities and feel the weight of the world to be so many things to so many people. It’s difficult to let others see your insecurities and faults. I’m also finding, as I get older I don’t have the energy to pretend. I am this very flawed person who is not willing to change who I am to be someone’s friend. Therefore, I hold back a part of myself, maybe as protection or maybe it’s just laziness. Then there are those times that part of my personality just slips out.
Yesterday, I was volunteering with other moms at a weeklong dance clinic for my daughter’s dance team. This was our second day of eight or so moms being together to put on this fundraising event. At the end of the day as we were saying our goodbyes, one of the moms let it slip that she was going to take a birthday nap. None of us knew that it was her birthday. She had spent her day taking care of others, giving of herself for her daughter and all these girls unselfishly while never letting us know she was having a significant day. So when I found out, I said - aloud - in front of everyone, “You should have told us! We could have gotten a stripper!” Those of you who know me, know this is classic Sherri. Silly nonsense. I think I’m kinda funny, but these people don’t really know me. They don’t know I’m silly. Immediately, I panicked! I started apologizing, saying I was kidding. (And really I was kidding.) Who knew whom I had just offended?! What on earth did these people think about me now? All these thoughts went through my mind very rapidly. This is classic. We all censor our true selves, (and sometimes we should for sure) but in order for us to build solid, true, deep friendships we have to let people see who we really are and love us anyway.
In researching this article, I’ve made new friends and I’ve discovered that I am not alone. Sometimes, we all feel inadequate and unsure of ourselves. The funny thing is these are all wonderful, loving, giving, and successful women. I think that we should all give ourselves permission to invest in ourselves. Permission to take the chance on new friendships and time to nurture longtime friends. We must also be kind and gentle to one another. Remember that everyone else has those same insecurities. None of us are perfect and most of us aren’t as thin as we use to be! Maybe our life’s journey hasn’t taken us in the direction we planned. However, there is a great big world out there full of wonderful people who are just waiting for a friend just like you. I’m looking for those of you who : want to eat donuts at midnight; will head to Walmart at 11pm; don’t care if my house is a mess; don’t care what kind of car I drive; won’t be embarrassed to be seen with me on the beach in my “skirted mommy swimsuit”; will sing at the top of our lungs to every song on the radio whether we know the words or not; will listen to my fears about my children growing up; will tell me when I have something on my teeth; will tell me when I’m overreacting to life; will feel my pain when my feelings are hurt; will know that when I say something inappropriate (and I will – a lot) I really am a good person; will be my biggest cheerleader; will be my life coach; and will laugh until we wet our pants. To those of you who have been my Best Friend - I treasure you even more today.