Written by Mariem ELTagoury
1- We live in a big, busy world
You might meet, and you probably have already met, some wonderful friends in your life. The school besties whom you collectively build castles in the sand and clouds with, the best buddies who helped out when you missed classes, or perhaps skipped them, and the high-school mates who were there to hear about your first crush. The ones who were by your side during those ‘big gang’ fights, the college buddies whom you travelled with, shared equal moments of euphoria and anxiety; studying and partying together. At every stage, you believed whoever was by your side would be there for life. Perhaps some still are, and some are not anymore.
But the “Best Friends Forever” motto is just a fun slogan like; “And they lived happily ever after.” Friendships, like other human relationships, are created by people, according to their current life stage and life requirements. Friendship is merely a relationship that complements one’s current state of life. It is a busy, big world. One day, you might have a job in a country and become really close to a specific friend there. The next you might find a scholarship in another location and create new relations there. One might start a family and lead a different lifestyle with newly found interests, that drifts him/her away from those they knew before. Perhaps, introducing themselves to new people with more common lifestyle grounds.
The point is: Friends come and go according to the course of life. While in the past people’s lives were fairly more stable and stationary, our generation is not the same today. Human relations have become different, so have friendships.
2- Good friends don’t have to be close friends
We have a common misconception that a good friend has to be a close friend. This is completely and utterly false. Some close friends are toxic. We love them for the sake of the memories we have made, for the sake of the longitude of the friendship, for the sake of the loyalty code of friendship, one probably got from watching The Three Musketeers too many times as a kid – or maybe that is just me.
The thing is that with longitude comes age, and across time we change. Life changes us, and we become different people. If you look back at yourself 10 years ago, you will not recognize yourself. We look back at our own selves and wonder who we were, and what has become of us. That’s just talking about you; now think about those around you.
Just because I say toxic, it doesn’t mean they are bad people. They are just different people now with different goals in life. Sometimes, the toxicity comes from the expectations we have of them as friends, which they cannot fulfill.
Good friends do not have to be close to you. They can be the kind of friends you don’t meet regularly, who send you a message to say Happy Holidays, and show up for your father’s funeral. They’re the people who check up on others, not for the sake of friendship loyalties, but just because they try to be good people. They don’t have to be the people you meet every week and feel comfortable sharing your deepest, darkest secrets with. But, they could be people who might help you when looking for support, or help finding a job. This is where the internet & social media can be healthy. It keeps good connections with good friends alive.
3- Friends come and go
There are tons of people who mourn the loss of a friend(s) at some point – just to be clear, I’m not talking about friends leaving for the next world; I’m talking about friends just disappearing from one’s current life bubble. The reality is: Loss is part of the course of life. At every stage of life we meet new people, life drifts us close to some and away from others; because it is life. The best we can make out of it is to be the good friend we talked about previously. The person who stays in touch but doesn’t always have to be present. The person who is good to others, and to leave a door open in one’s mind.
Embrace the friends you have at the moment, and let them go with ease. When it’s time for them to leave, don’t cling painfully onto what can’t last forever. Life goes on. So should you, and all the ties around you that make you human.
4- Your friendships don’t have to look like fictional characters
Everyone has the super team of his/her imagination. Carrie & her girls (Sex & the city); F.R.I.E.N.D.S; Harry, Ron, & Hermione; Ted & Marshall (How I met your mother); Meredith Grey & Christina Yang (Grey’s Anatomy); the Hangover gang; and whoever you want to add to this list. Everyone’s looking for that exceptional magical bond. The cruel reality is that just like the ideal body of 40 year old Jennifer Aniston, ideal friendships are just not easily attainable, or easy to find.
Powerful friendships require lots of hard work and sacrifice, just like any human relationship. Not every lifestyle or person is the same. While some people can live with big sacrifice and manage their time, others can’t. We create friendships that are sustainable according to our current lifestyle, with people in our same social family circumstances, with a colleague, with those who live within the same neighbourhood. Some are satisfied with long distance friendships, via the internet. While these relationships may not be as powerful as the ones we see on screen – they are not “your person” (Grey’s Anatomy reference here) – , they sustain our basic need for human interaction, while being less stressful on our daily realistic lives. Such don’t contain so much free time for daily coffee meets and cosmos every weekend.
Besides, it won’t be realistically as exciting. No one has a life so full of drama to report about, so often to a bunch of people. Just like romantic relationships, friendships are not as idealistic as in the fictional world. Sometimes, it’s better to accept an imperfect reality than to keep craving a fantasy.
5- Change expectations and keep an open, forgiving mind…
What we expect from a friendship differs like anything else across different people. It can vary according to family upbringing, personal preference, and lifestyle. For example, a person who wakes up at 4 am for work might not like a friendship involving long gossip calls in the middle of the night. Someone who was brought up in a family that allowed lots of sleepovers might seem, to others, unusually comfortable in another person’s household. Not because they don’t have privacy limits, but because they were brought up with more emphasis on the idea of sharing a home with everyone rather than privacy zone rules.
Different people have different perspectives of friendships, and with modernization and globalization, it’s difficult to find someone who will meet the ideal set of expectations in your head. That’s why one must own some forgiveness. Reality is: No matter how much we know about one another, one doesn’t know the reasons behind how others think or deal with things. We don’t need to know the reason people fall into our lives, so keep an open mind and forgive enough to allow them to fall out in just the same way.
Unfortunately, it is far less common to find anyone write or talk about this topic, in comparison to the other older myth, “the one”; even if you’re looking for information about it online. I don’t mean to belittle any current flourishing, long-lasting friendships. It’s a beautiful, rare thing to own, like how precious it is to find someone who loves you, unconditionally. If you have it, treasure it. Know you are blessed beyond measure, and be grateful.
If you don’t, know that you’re not an odd black sheep. You’re like many of us everyday individuals in this world. There is no need to go all dramatic about it, and start talking about back stabbing and broken hearts all over the internet. Be an adult that has grown up to understand that fairytales are fairytales, and reality is reality. Embrace it, with its imperfect beauty. You might not have the friendship for a screenplay; but perhaps, then, you’ll meet more people, learn more, and enjoy more experiences. Perhaps, you’ll introduce your mind to thoughts and concepts you never thought you’d encounter. Meeting new people is a learning experience beyond any.
Personally, I’m very grateful for all the friendships of all kinds that have passed through my life; as each has been a learning experience that has formed who I am today. In the end, know that the mind is a sensitive thing. If one locks people in, they’ll find a way out leaving scratches and scars behind. So, let them fall in and fall out through an open door, leaving nothing but memories that build us and turn us into the people we shall become.
What do you think of “The Bestie” Myth? Could you let go of old ex-friendships? Let me know your thoughts about the topic in the comments.