Not In Jersey: On Best Friends On Best Friends - Not In Jersey

Sunday, August 18, 2013

On Best Friends

Gabbie is getting to the age where little girls pair off and choose “best friends.” Gabbie will tell you that she has 4-5 best friends, never choosing one as preferred over another. However two sets of her best friends already have best friend necklaces with each other.


Remember these?

Seeing the girls wearing the necklaces brings me back to my own childhood. I never had a best friend to call my own. There was never a girl who I was the closest to, who didn’t have another friend they were closer to than me. For some reason, I had one of these necklaces. I guess I so desperately wanted a best friend, I decided to buy one and find someone to wear the other half. I gave it to the girl I played with the most. She lived nearby and I could walk to her house and we would play with our Barbies or listen to music and talk. We probably were best friends really, but when she wore the necklace and the other kids found out I was her best friend, they teased her for it and she gave the necklace back to me.

You see, I was the loser in my class in 5th-6th grade. I was the one that everyone made fun of. I was given nicknames by the other girls, so they could talk about me in code. They were so smart about it. They told me that the nicknames referred to another girl, so that when they used the names I would think they were talking about her. But when that girl told me the names really referred to me, it all became clear. I was Big Bird and I was the Nervous System and I completely understood why my friend would not want to risk her own status by being best friends with me.

I grew up in a small town. My elementary school was one of three that fed into a junior high school, and then we all went to high school together. It was not easy to drop the loser status because the same kids were always there to remind those who did not know. Anyone new in our school was warned off from being my friend. There was one girl in particular who made that her duty from 7th grade on. And while I did make friends and I did stay friends with the original recipient of half of my necklace, I still never found a best friend.

These experiences made it very hard for me to keep friends as I got older. I went to a very large university for college, which made it easier to find the right group of friends to fit in with. However, before that happened, I repeatedly became close with girls and soon grew too clingy, causing them to change their minds about being my friend at all. In college you don’t give each other best friend necklaces, but you do have to pair off in order to find a roommate. Once again I found myself the odd girl out, without a best friend who wanted to live with me. I wasn’t surprised by this, I was the Nervous System after all. (This led to one of the best things that happened to me during college – I scored a single room my sophomore year! It was awesome. The following year I found a roommate by posting a want ad and we are still friends now, so that worked out too.) Finally, by senior year, I had found the girl who would soon become the maid of honor in my wedding, the closest I’ve ever had to a true best friend. We lived together that year and I’d do it again so that’s saying something!

As an adult, I’ve become friends with the parents’ of my kids’ friends and in many cases it has worked out wonderfully for me as well. It is great to have women to talk to, who I can count on, who love my kids and whose kids I love. And while I know they consider me a close friend as well, there is still part of me that worries that they find me annoying or will get tired of hanging out with me. And that if I say the wrong thing they might laugh at me and tell all our mutual friends not to be my friend anymore. Realistic? No. But still in my head.

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And I hope Gabbie will not have the same experiences, will not feel left out when her close friends pair off into “bests” and will continue to feel close to a group. Or that she will find her one true best friend who will always be there for her and who will protect her from the bullies.

11 comments:

Janine Huldie said...

Dara, I too never really had a very close girlfriend when I was younger and then just as I was finding my way in middle school, we moved to a whole new town about 45 minutes away. I did have some girlfriends in high school, but because of this move I really didn't have any one that I would have called my best friend. Same in college, but finally in my early 20s I found my very good friends, who am still friends with now and was also the maid of honor in our wedding, as well as Emma's god mother. So, I could in some ways relate to your post. This was really a very brave post to write and share with all. And seriously hope that Gabbie, as well as my own girls never experience anything quite like this. Girls truly can be cruel sometimes and I again hope for so much more and better for our kids.

Tamar SB said...

I can so relate to everything you wrote! Being on the teacher side of it all now, I remember vividly what it was like to be that girl with no one bff! I work to have my students have more than one friend - to not be exclusive, etc.

I hope Gabbie has only wonderful friendships!!

Lori said...

Luv and miss you, Dara! You were the best (girl) roommate I ever had! :)

Rachel said...

Kids can be really mean. To this day, I've never been the person another girl calls their "best friend"...I think one of the reasons I'm so happy I came from a big family is that I got to grow up with all those automatic friends in my sisters!

Leslie @ Violet Imperfection said...

Girls can be so mean. I had friends but looking back I feel like it was a one way friendship, me giving, them taking. I don't want that for Violet. That is one reason why I love the moms I have met and their kids too. I hope our girls are friends forever.

Munchkins and the Military said...

Reading this made me sad. And oddly enough, it seemed to parallel my life growing up as well. Kids really can be so mean. Thankfully I was perfectly fine being a loner as a kid, and I'm even happier as an adult.

Holly Higgins said...

You just described fourth grade for me. For whatever reason, it was decided that I was the one to pick on, spit on, scratch, call a lumpy potato...you name it. While it got better in middle school and I had friends, there were those that continued to bully me until the day we graduated high school. I will never forget my sophomore English class where the main girl in question made a comment about my hair that resulted in the entire class that was in elementary school with me laughing at me - this is something that terrifies me for my kids. I have a close girl friend now, but have never had anyone I consider a best friend, other than my husband.

Lanaya | Raising Reagan said...

As mothers to girls we can all relate to your feelings on this matter. It's something that scares me when Reagan gets to that age.
Girls can be very mean. I had issues in grade school to and I could relate to a lot of your feelings.
The best thing we can do is show our children how to be kind and loving and give them the best tools to succeed.

Thank you for linking to Raising Imperfection.
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djgmom said...

I can relate to this story. I didn't have a mean girl in my life, but it wasn't until junior high that I lived close enough to my school to even have a real friend there. I couldn't go to any parties or see anyone outside of school. By junior high, the kids at the school had already paired off. I hope my children never experience this. I'm still struggling to have someone as "my best friend" who I am extremely close to.

Shoshanah said...

I had a best friend growing up. Except when we were 4, her family moved about 40 mins away. Our parents were friends so we stayed friends even with the distance and she was even my MOH at our wedding. But because of the distance we stopped going to school together in Pre-K. And I can completely relate to so much of this. I had a group of friends in middle school, but be got into a big fight the summer before high school, and it wasn't till senior year of high school where I really felt "in" with a group of friends. So while I would hate to have my future daughter have a similar experience, a lot of it made me who I am today, and I still got through it all.

Ronni said...

Wow. Thank you for sharing this. I was a "loser" in elementary and jr. high school. No one wanted to know me, and the people who did know me, I think they did it out of pity.


Having a best friend--it seems like it should be a given, but it's often not. I don't know if I ever had a true "Best Friend" until I got to high school, and I don't think I have one now. I have friends who I love dearly and tell everything to, but I don't have a best friend, not in that traditional sense. For a long, long time I felt badly because of it. Now I just accept it. It is what it is. I am lucky to have close friends anyway.