It became very popular in the 1980s and 90s to call your "best friend", a BFF, or "Best Friend Forever". And, it was super unpopular not to have one.
I had very few close friends, much less a "best friend", so I was amongst the unpopular. There were many days I ventured into the schoolyard unsure of who I'd share a laugh with at lunch. It wasn't that kids didn't like me. I was a sweet soul with a lot of heart, but I was an oddball. Truthfully, I was different and that led me to often hang out with the adults, teachers, and older kids. Kids just flat out didn't pick me for things.
I remember wondering if I'd ever find a best friend. I made friends here and there, some very close who I stayed in touch with over the years from high school or college, and even hung out with, but never ever considered anyone a best friend.
Until, one day, I met Jennifer.
We worked together at Shell. I remember the day I met her because she resembled someone I knew. She was quirky, funny, laughed at herself, and enjoyed being around people. I could tell she wanted to go places, do things, explore what life had to offer, and to grow. She had this edge to her. And over the days, weeks, months and years I came to realize how important she became in my life.
Today's definition of friendship has transformed. While I have 1200ish "friends" on Facebook, 1500ish business contacts, and a handful of twitter buds, how many of them are my closest and best friends? (Oh, you know I love you all...)
So here's what I think distinguishes a "friend" from a "best friend", or a "bestie"...
- A friend is someone who won't laugh at you when you sing. A best friend is someone who knows the song inyour heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words. Jennifer is the kind of friend who can pick my head up out of the toilet with a few words or a text message.
- A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future and accepts you how you are. A best friend, makes you a better person by encouraging you to pursue those dreams. When I wanted to leap over my cheese, and people thought I was crazy, Jennifer said "Go for it...you deserve it!" She was also there when I wanted to run back the other direction.
- A friend will fly to Berlin with you to skate a marathon herself. A best friend will go to Berlin twice and miss her daughter's birthday to watch you run a marathon. Jennifer did both.
I went to my 20 year high school reunion this year. Some of the same people have been best friends since then, while others have moved on.
Friendships are like marathons. The best friends you have will stick it through with you through your best and worst miles in life. It took me nearly 35 years to meet my best friend...but this was one marathon I haven't mind running.
What is your definition of friend? best friend? What marathons in life are you running together?