A few months ago I wrote a post on how I was a terrible friend. She must be exaggerating, you’re probably thinking to yourself. Surely she’s not terrible. And I suppose you’d be right. I’m not a bad person; at least I try not to be. I hope I never intentionally hurt anyone with my words and actions. I’m rather careful, hyper aware of my place in any situation and moment. Which has led me to be guarded. I rarely open up and keep most of my feelings and thoughts to myself. I’m extremely private; most myself when I’m alone.
Which does not, surprise surprise, lend itself to creating and maintaining friendships. It’s one of my greatest struggles, something that I am truly embarrassed about. Because really, how hard is it to make a friend? My eight year old sister can walk into a clothing store and become besties with some random kid who loves American Girl and the color pink and Disney movies in about five minutes. And that’s a worst case scenario.
Me? I can sit next to the same person in class for an entire semester or order coffee from the same barista every time I go into the coffee shop without knowing a thing about them beyond their name. Because I do surface well. The vagueness, the safety of generalities. I’m comfortable there. I can’t mess that up. There’s no expectation or responsibility.
I can do acquaintances. But I’m horrid at being a best friend.
Because that’s what all friendships should aspire to, right? That amazing level of knowing absolutely everything about a person. Likes, dislikes, favorite color and food, what they wore two weeks ago on that one date that went badly, what their five year plan is, how to best cheer them up. I’m the worst at giving pep talks. No joke. I can commiserate, but if I try to make you feel better, the opposite will probably happen. On an exponential scale.
So often in the midst of a friendship, I feel inadequate. I’m not bringing enough to the relationship. I’m getting more out of this than they are, I think to myself. And I hate that. Insecurity in friendship makes it more of a chore than fun. And friendship should only ever bring immense joy to your life. It should make you laugh, smile, and breathe easier, because there are people in your life who get you, who chose you, who love you in spite or rather because of your neuroses and idiosyncrasies.
Friendship should never be a contest of who is the better friend. It should be an absolute pleasure. A meeting of minds. A recognition of souls. Like coming home.
Over the last few months, I’ve realized that I’ve spent an unfortunate number of years doing friendship wrong. Because as I’ve tried to be so many things for my darling friends, I’ve really been trying to be a perfect friend, the best of all the friends, the better friend. It was rather selfish, because the moment I realized I could never be good enough, I walked away. It was hurtful and childish, and I am more sorry than I can say.
No one needs a perfect friend. That sort of person would probably be a nightmare to be with anyway, always doing everything right without mistakes. Sounds insufferable if you ask me. I’d rather surround myself with people who are a bit off, a bit dark, and a bit weird. I’d rather be with people who can love me for what I am instead of pointing out what I’m not. I want to be friends with people who let me be completely myself and are completely themselves in every moment.
Because I can never be the “best” or most perfect friend. I can’t be everything. I’ll never be good at cheering you up, but I will listen to you rant and rave and cry while being properly outraged on your behalf. I’ll never be good at opening up completely, but I will always be honest. I’m bad with fashion advice, but I can appreciate a good hair day. I never talk during movies and I love sitting in comfortable silence, but I’ll probably encourage you to eat that second cupcake or open a second bottle of wine. And I may not understand everything you do or be able to empathize with your past, but I’ll never judge. I will always love and admire you for what you’ve overcome and for the person you’ve made yourself into.
We aren’t perfect people. We have flaws and baggage and things we struggle with on a daily basis. And let’s just be honest and say there will always be things we’re bad at. But friendship should be about surrounding ourselves with people accept us for what we are and urge us to grow all at once. Friendship should be about being with people who forgive us for our faults. Friendship should never leave you feeling unwanted or unworthy.
Maybe we don’t have to try to be all of these great amazing things for our friends.
Maybe we just need to be there, by their side, living life with them.
Maybe they only need us, in the most simple of ways.
Maybe we need only to love them in whatever way we can.
Perhaps we should aspire to be a truly good friend rather than the best.
Thank you for reading! And maybe (definitely) follow me on Twitter. I’m pretty entertaining.