When I was growing up, I thought my worth depended upon the number of friends I had. I was not one of the ‘popular girls’, I was never in the clique that all of the boys talked about and wanted to date. I was somewhere in-between, average. Sure, I had a small group of close friends but I wanted more. I wanted to be the girl surrounded by a huge group of people; I wanted other girls to envy me, to want to be me, to want to know the secret to being a part of the ‘it’ crowd. The girls who walk through the hallways and know that everyone else’s eyes are on them. I wanted to be invited to all of the great parties, to be at the center of everything.
I wanted to be that unattainable cool girl.
But being in my twenties, I have come to realize that friendship is not defined by how many I have. The quality of the love I receive from friends is never about the variety of people it’s coming from. I know that I would not feel any happier by having more friends in my life because the ones I do have are more amazing than my sixteen-year-old self could ever wish for.
The fact is, when it comes to best friends, real friends, ‘your people’, it’s simply about knowing instinctively that they will be there for you forever, through everything. It’s knowing that if you call them at 4am because your boyfriend still isn’t home from his lads night out, they will reassure you and talk to you until you fall asleep. It’s knowing that if you’re having a difficult time, even if in reality, it isn’t a huge life-changing problem, they will validate your feelings. It’s knowing that they will call you out on your shit and knowing you can be brutally honest with them too, and it will never jeopardize your friendship.
It’s knowing that you can fight about things and you still love each other. It’s not being afraid to tell them when they’ve hurt you, because you know it’s better to talk things out rather than pretending everything is fine. It’s knowing that they won’t leave you when you make mistakes, they won’t judge you when your morals slip, they won’t ever make you feel less than or unworthy.
It’s is always better to have a few amazing friends than loads of average ones. It’s better to have a few friends whose friendship you never question. Who you don’t need to talk to every second of every day because you understand you’re both busy but you’re always thinking of each other. Friends whose silence does not make you think they have forgotten you or they’re mad at you or they’ve moved on.
It’s better to have friends who you can go months without seeing but pick up exactly where you left off. Friends who make you laugh until your stomach cramps up and tears are rolling down your face. Friends who make every single effort to make you a part of their life, whether that is introducing you to their family or to meet their other friends. It’s always better to have friends who consistently show you that you mean everything to them.
And I think if I could go back and tell my teenage self one thing, it would be that it’s okay not to be popular in high school. It’s okay to have a small group of reliable friends. It’s okay to grow up and simply have three best friends who you know will be with you for life. Friends who you tell your entire world to and they never get bored. Friends who have seen you at rock bottom and made every effort to lift you up and keep you going. Friends who have seen you disgustingly drunk and laid in bed with you the next morning showing you the hilarious photos with a false eyelash stuck to your cheek.
I would tell her that it’s okay to want more, to crave something special, something you want to tell everyone about. It’s okay to want to be adored. But honey, the best things in life are often much more refined.
Friendship is not a popularity contest, it’s about the few incredible people who showed up in your life and prove to you every single day that they are here to stay.