I recently came across my old diary back from when I was in school. The contents of this precious little memoir from the past are painfully embarrassing, and not fit for public consumption at all. It is full of Avril Lavigne song lyrics, a list of my favorite actors, and the names of my best friends with rainbows and red hearts around them. I had 4 best friends apparently.
It made me feel a little sad. Every time I look around, I see people boasting about their best friends on social media. I have cordial relationships with my friends from school, but I haven’t kept in touch with them more than dropping them a text on their birthdays, and now on their kids’ birthdays.
Upon finding this diary, my mind decided to do a completely random exercise of deciding is there anyone in my life right now that I would call my best friend.
The answer was no.
Regardless of the fact that I am guilty of loosely throwing the term around on social media posts and birthday wishes on the gram for at least like 7 people, after careful deliberation and much thinking, I have reached the conclusion that I do not have a best friend.
You see, I have a lot of girlfriends. And a couple of guy friends who are close to me. But I do not see the need to have a single one of them on a pedestal and call them my best friend. And this isn’t a development that has happened overnight. A substantial amount of drama, heartbreak and ‘deep’ thinking has led me to believe that it’s best for me to not have a best friend anymore. It’s just not for me.
I have come to realise that there is not one person single-handedly capable of providing me with all that I look for, in human connections. And it would be preposterous to expect them to, wouldn’t it?
I am surrounded by talented, wholesome women who are all so different, and amazing, that they continue to dazzle me every single day with their grit, talent and strength. Each one of these women mean so much to me, but I still wouldn’t dare single out one of them and call her my best friend.
One of my friends is my career adviser, she is the one who encouraged me to leave my full-time job and go for something I love.
Another friend is not so career-oriented. She doesn’t care much about the social constructs of money-making, not for herself, not for me. What she is good at is fiercely protecting me, loving me, and standing up for me every single time. I have known her for eight years now, and not once has she abandoned me when I needed her.
Earlier, I used to dislike the fact that she wasn’t as goal-oriented as I was, and our priorities in life were starkly different. But with time I learnt that to be my friend, she doesn’t need to like the same things as me.
She was there for me when I needed her, and that mattered. This was a person who I used to call my best friend, but ever since we have grown up, I don’t think the term best friend fits her. Not because she lacks something to fit the bill, but simply because it wouldn’t be fair to the other equally important people I have in my life.
It’s not that I dislike people. It’s just that now when I meet someone I like, I have no desire to instantly become best friends with them. I may hang out with them casually from time to time, or plan an impromptu trip. But the usual give & take nature of friendship doesn’t apply in my relationship with them. As a bonus, I do not have a best friend whom I would have to explain every single time why am I hanging out with others, and not her.
Being a little away from ‘best friends’ has opened me up to a new world of endless possibilities both in terms of professional and personal outlooks. When I go to parties, I am not looking for that one person anymore to cling on to. The discomfort of being alone makes me meet different people whom otherwise I wouldn’t even have bothered to say hello to.
The entire concept of best friends revolves around the idea of being available for each other all the damn time, no matter what. And honestly, I am just not up for that kind of adventure anymore. It doesn’t mean that I won’t help a friend, or even a social media acquaintance for that matter, when they really need my help. What I mean is I don’t like being bothered at 3 AM to talk about a guy that you hardly dated for 6 days or about the Tinder date that ghosted you.
I have grown to believe that codependency among best-friends can often be problematic. It is not uncommon for two people to act as enablers for each other, often in times of faux-crisis like ‘My ex has blocked me on social media again’. Best friends often support and encourage people during completely pointless drama to remind each other that they aren’t alone.
While I am sure it is something that a lot of people still want in their lives, I prefer staying away from the meaningless theatricals.
A common mistake people make in friendships (and relationships) is to look for similarities. Sure, there are some values that cannot be compromised. For instance, not being best friends with a Trump supporter is like a no brainer. Duh. But otherwise, as a fully-functional adult, do you actually need a person at your beck and call all the time?
The entire concept of best friends comes from our childhood, where as kids we are encouraged to socialise and form emotional and social bond with other little humans. Since the idea of a romantic partnership is out of the question, we are often asked who our best friend is. You are supposed to stick with your best friend through thick and thin, and no matter what goes down you are expected to not leave their side. This is all fun and games until you grow up.
Damn, I am 28, I don’t want to spend my life dealing with another adult’s issues and problems. I have spent thousands on therapy and years of regret to finally reach a place where I know I am not expected to stick with people if it takes a toll on my mental health. But with best friends, there is no escape. And I wouldn’t like to put myself in that position ever again.
I can’t believe I wrote that. It’s crazy how much I like being left alone with me and my cats lately. I don’t mean that I want to run away from the real world and spend my days in a deserted island, but I do need my time alone now, more than ever, to live a peaceful, happy life.
I like to believe that I am an extrovert, but I also like to be left alone to replenish and recharge. I like to be alone to read, write or paint. Not having a best friend allows me to not pick up every call I get, or respond to every text. It means having quiet dinners without disturbance, or watching an entire season of Fleabag alone without talking to anyone.
I also find it empowering of being able to take my own decisions without consulting my BFF every step of the way.
I have collected a few precious people in life that I keep close to me, and always will. I like the fact that we can be emotionally close without spending hours together, or telling each other every minute detail of our banal lives. And that’s the beauty of it. There is more room to accommodate each other’s quirks, without turning minor differences into nuclear fights.
I am sure BFFs are what some people need in life, but for me, that chapter is closed forever. My ideal friendships are those where we root for each other, stand with each other, and hold each other in times of grief, but we definitely don’t need to talk to each other every day.
Crafted with brevity for select stories to make certain you see what others don't; sent every Friday
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