Someone wise once told me that the thought of having a ‘best friend’ was, for lack of a better term, stupid. She didn’t understand how someone could decide that just one friend out of several could be better than the rest, how you could pin point the one person in your life that you considered to be the ‘best’. This was also the person who didn’t look both ways before crossing the street and whom I have spent countless hours with, talking about boys and school and life. And somehow, along the way, she used that label for some of the people in her life.

I think I always had a somewhat whimsical view of the definition of a ‘best friend’. In elementary school, it was the person that was nice to me in my class, the girl who may or may not have better snacks for recess and the girl who would pick me for her ‘team’ in a game. Which means, of course, in elementary school, my best friends changed faster than the seasons. At least for the lower grades. By the time I was in my last year of elementary school, I had two ‘best friends’ and we promised, promised, promised to always be best friends. Which, as I’m sure you can probably guess, did not last long. When we moved on from elementary school, one of them decided that her life’s goal was to be popular and the other one? Well, she used the opportunity to make my life miserable, to say the least. All those little secrets that you tell your best friends gets spilled faster than a cup of milk while you’re walking down the stairs in the dark.

In high school, I think my definition of a best friend grew and matured quite a bit. It didn’t matter if I didn’t have the same classes with them all the time, or even the same free block. They become your confidante, the people that you go to in tears when a boy rejects you after you make yourself emotionally vulnerable. Someone once told me that the friends that you make in high school will, generally, stick with you forever. And in a way, that is true. Even if you do live less than five blocks from everyone that mattered for those four years of your life, and you never see them except for their birthday and your own, they’re still the same people that went through the same things that you did. They’re the same people who verbally berated themselves for ‘nearly failing’ a test, they’re the same people who wrote you pages and pages of notes, all neatly folded. They’re still the same people that you consoled after they got rejected by a boy and they’re still the same people that complained (and complained) about the girl that the guy that they really love is dating. (Even if, by some act of miracle, they become very good friends with that exact same girl a few years later – I still have such trouble wrapping my head around that one.)

It’s been two and a half years since I graduated from high school. I’m still friends with the people that I called my friends in high school; the real friends, not the ones that just happened to suffer through certain classes with me. We may not spend a lot of time together, despite living so close, but we try to keep in touch. And I’m eternally grateful for their support over the years.

Definitions of a best friend changes over the years, especially as you get older. It takes a while for you to comprehend that it has changed, but you do realize that it has. The person that becomes your best friend is the person who knows your hopes and dreams and wishes. They know your secrets, all those skeletons in your closet. They know the things that are difficult to talk about, and they know how to change the subject for you when you’re at a lost for what to say. They know what you’re about to say, they know how you’re going to react, they know just what to say when you need something to be said. A best friend knows how you see your life in five years, ten years, fifteen years. They offer a sense of comfort. They know when what they say is going to be hurtful, but they also understand that being truthful is something that needs to be said. A best friend knows that when they say something, and that when you have a fight about it, they’re doing it because they realize that at the end of the day, you’re still going to be best friends because you both realize the connection that you have is something special.

Who is your best friend?

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