When I first moved to the United States I was 7. For the first 6 months I barely spoke a word of English, was baffled by how school worked, and had no clue at all about to communicate with the kids in my class, let alone actually make friends with any of them.
Not a problem.
The kids in the class did the math, realized that I was rounding out what had previously been an odd number of girls and promptly assigned me to be Heather’s best friend. At least I think her name was Heather. It could have been Prudence. Or Phoebe. I don’t actually have the faintest recollection of her name.
Heather (let’s just go with that, shall we?) and I had nothing in common. Or maybe we just couldn’t communicate and so were never even able to discern if we had some common ground. Whatever the reason, we really didn’t gel. The girls took terrible offense at this and spent the rest of the year making fun of me for every little thing I did.
So I became friends with Simon, the other class outcast, who spent all his recesses trying to dig a hole under the playground fence. Presumably to escape. I liked him. He had zero expectations of me beyond handing him new sticks when the one he was using to dig broke.
I only stayed at that school one year. Could be because the girls made me cry daily or because my parents didn’t think much of the teacher, it’s unclear. I didn’t care, I was 8 and delighted to get away.
Oddly enough, I took away with me a deep rooted belief that you need to have a best friend to get ahead in life.
Which is especially funny because I’m not a one-friend kind of gal. Never have been. I’m more the kind of person who will have a number of ride-or-die friends to whom I’m wholeheartedly devoted.
- I have the girl friends that I go out with at least once a week to bitch and laugh about the minutia of mundane life.
- I have the friends I like to connect with to talk about books and our big picture philosophical take on life.
- I have the friend who started as a work-buddy and turned into a I’ll-always-have-your-back-no matter-what real life friend who I happen to work with still.
- I have the friends I used to work for/with whose friendships transcends distance of every kind.
- I have my blog buddies who, over time went from being virtual pals to real flesh and blood I’d fly to the ends of the world to be with you if you needed me friends
It’s not one best friend. It’s a posse of people I would literally drop everything to help should they ever need it. It’s a support network of angels who would totally do, and have done, the same for me.
Those girls at that school had it all wrong and I’m glad that over the years I’ve finally understood that they were utterly wrong about their small minded approach to friendship. You don’t need one friend to get ahead in life. You need to surround yourself by people who truly see you and love you for who you are, even if they only see and love one aspect of the whole you. Recognizing that is how I have woven myself the kind of relationships that complete me in every way.
Only you can define the friends you need. Not family, society, or that brat in 2nd grade.