I spent the entirety of my formative years longing, perhaps in vain, for a single, gloriously unwavering Best Friend Forever. Someone who knew all my secrets and chose me before anyone else as my own ride or die. The Timon to my Pumba, the Blair Waldorf to my Serena van der Woodsen, the Taylor Mckessie to my Gabriella Montez. These were the real onscreen-relationships that I romanticised. I now take a certain level of umbrage with this narrative; that the exclusory two-man cult approach to friendship, sold to young girls through Disney Channel scripts and 2-piece interlocking heart necklaces from Claire’s Accessories, is the ultimate #goals of female friendship.
The parameters for the mythical BFF are uncompromising and nonsensically ambitious; an agonisingly-impossible venture, born both out of optimism and narcissism. Almost ruinous in its nature, inducing mental discard towards those who prove themselves unworthy of sitting in the elitist echelon of your circle; punished for having Harriet to sleepover on a Friday night instead of you. God ~ forbid ~ anyone should etch even marginally close to the invisible, supposedly untouchable, boundary of intimacy which pedestals you above the rest of her friends. We’ve all felt that familiar pang – whether you’re 8 or 18 – when someone refers to your Best Friend as their own. Marketed as an extension of yourself, the sacred Best Friend Forever is an unattainable existence by virtue of selfdom.
My Best Friend changed several times throughout school. Then again in college. Then again several times throughout university. To an extent, my Best Friend and my instinctual go-to still changes with the time, depending on the event and the frequency and intimacy of my friendships in a given moment. Is that fickle? I hope not. It’s taken 22 years to build my precious circle and I, when the words ‘Best Friend’ come to mind, have envisioned the same beaming faces for a fair amount of time now.
Finding your people takes time and maintaining friendships can be hard, what with the obstacles of distance and (un)availability, not to mention personal growth and change. I’m only 22 but am already anxious over the impending doom of the inevitable spousal ‘next steps’ of my closest friends and their partners. Moving in together, engagements, babies, moving to cities far far away to be closer to the in-laws. Once the first domino falls, even with fierce resistance, everything will change.
Maintaining friendships from your scholastic days can be even harder, especially when you move to another city after school. The leitmotif my hometown friends hold, or at least what SnapChat ‘memories’ like to remind them of, is of me (although, unregrettably) sliding haphazardly and hysterically down a sticky pole in the middle of my dingy hometown nightclub. Whilst I’d like to think not much, really, has changed since those glory days, certain nuances which I now consider relatively significant elements of my identity have shifted. These friends haven’t been a part of my every-day for the last 4 years to see these subtleties evolve and this can sometimes create an air of distance. A distance, nonetheless, bridged by long-lasting kinship.
When boring train journeys and expert scheduling stand in the way of regular get-togethers, the coax of convenience-friendships can seem all too beguiling. Thankfully, I am profoundly aware of the dissatisfaction and forfeiture a roster of readily-available pals with limited connection caveats and so footnote my friendships, where I can, with life’s most precious resource – time. A physical presence when possible, virtual when not.
It’s taken time to come to terms with the fact that I’ll probably never have a Best Friend Forever, at least in the sense that I once imagined I would. Also, to understand that surface-level closeness can intensify and quieten without affecting camaraderie. That having several best friends, appointed for their love, humour and kindness, rather than one for their enthusiasm to altruistically put you before everything else in their life, is much more gratifying. It keeps things spicy, welcomes a range of dynamics and means you have different personalities with which to discuss your stream of consciousness – will we be lucky enough to see the grips of the male gaze be truly alleviated within our life time? Can you believe that Jason Earles (aka, Jackson Stewart) was in his 30s when they filmed Hannah Montana?
What I’m left with is a few very close friends that I truly believe I will be lucky enough to love vehemently for life. What’s more, is that I now realise what a treasure it is to have several best people I can so fervidly and habitually depend on, laugh and embrace both the revelry and quiet joys of adult friendship with.
*I want to footnote this article with a satirical congratulations if you indeed are, or have, a Best Friend Forever. You won, Jane. Enjoy the money, I hope it makes you happy.