I have never liked the ease in which people use the title “best friend”. For some people, it is a title easily given, but for me, it has always been something that has held more weight than that. To me, a best friend, is as simple as the title, the best of all of my friends. It could be one person or maybe two people, but in my opinion, the title of best friend is earned.
And to be honest up to this year, I never really had a true best friend. Sure, I have had people that I was and still am very close with. There are people that know my secrets, and I trust to keep them, people that I laugh with and spend a lot of my time with. And, I am not writing this to downplay the importance of those relationships because every friendship I have is important to me. But, up until this year the idea being at my weakest in front of someone else (who wasn’t my parents) was just lost on me.
I couldn’t understand what it was like to be completely defenseless in front of someone else. After all, I have spent my whole life building walls.
As a kid, friendship was easy for me, but it wasn’t until I got to middle school that the catty gossip and drama taught me to guard my heart. All of a sudden, friends became enemies at the drop of a hat. Secrets were told, feelings were hurt, and I wasn’t innocent in any of it. I learned to guard my heart and my secrets because if you keep everything to yourself, no one can hurt you.
The thing is, I never really grew out of this mentality. At the end of high school, I slowly began chipping away at the walls that I had built, but it wasn’t really until college that I began to see what it truly means to be a friend. Sophomore year, I lived with a girl who made the first big impact on me.
As a roommate, she was barely in the room, watched Supernatural on a crappy little TV on her desk when she was around, but most importantly, she needed me. I sat with her on her bed through her tears and talked her through some of the rough times, all the while marveling at her ability to let down her walls.
By the time we moved out, I was still unable to completely open up to her. However, the concept of letting someone see me in the raw, imperfect and emotional, stuck with me. The summer passed, and I pushed myself in terms of my friendships. I let pieces of my armor come down. I put trust in people. I invited my friends to my parents house for the first time in a forever. I was slowly letting my friends see me for me.
When junior year started, I never could have realized that my roommate, Becky would be the first to cross into the uncharted waters of best friendhood. Fall semester passed and we hung out a lot, secrets were exchanged, stories told. Becky was slowly crossing the line between friend and best friend.
By the time spring semester came, Becky and I were basically attached at the hip. However, as some of you know, spring semester was a killer for me. It was hard, stressful, and emotionally taxing to say in the least. It boiled over until one night after getting a bad grade on something I worked hard for, I cried in front of Becky. For the first time, I cried in front of someone that wasn’t my parents.
I realize to some of you this may sound bizarre that I have gone 20 years of life without crying in front of another person, but part of the “perfect” act I had going for so long, involved minimal showing of negative emotions.
After that, things changed, at least for me. Finally, someone had seen me at my worst, and the world didn’t end. I felt like a weight that I didn’t even know was there had been lifted off my chest. There are moments in life when you look back and realize that, that moment was a game changer.
It was in this moment that I realized that it’s okay to need someone.
I have spent 20 years holding back from people, and suddenly I have found a person that I know I can be myself with. I have found a best friend. Becky is someone that I know I can call whenever I need her. She is someone that I don’t have to pretend with. Out of all of the people I have ever called a friend in my life, she knows me the best.
If I could go back to the beginning of college or maybe even high school and tell myself one thing it would be this. It’s okay to give some of your burden to your loved ones to carry for you.Life is a long journey, and sometimes you may need someone to help you along the way. It’s okay to cry and be upset and unhappy. No one in this life is perfect. Not you. Not your friends or your parents. No one.
There is no perfection in solidarity. It’s okay to need someone to help you, to be there, to stay awake until 2 a.m. and listen to your problems through your tears. It’s okay to be a burden every once in awhile. It’s okay to trust people even if you have been hurt in the past. It’s okay to need someone, a person, a friend, or a best friend, to help you along the way. You don’t have to do it alone.
We only have one life to live and a pack full of burden to take along for the trip. It’s okay to ask someone to carry your pack when you get tired because that’s the thing about life, we are never alone. No matter what stretch of mountain you hit, what canyon you have to cross, all you have to do is turn around to realize, there is a whole group of people who have your back. Some are just a few feet behind waiting for you to sound the alarm, but some have been beside you the whole trip. All you have to do is look away from the trail for a second and you will see them, waiting patiently for you to turn around, to say the words – I need you, thank you for being here, I love you, I’m sorry it took me so long to stop and say hello.