*originally posted 6/26/2015 on ohcaroline.weebly.com*
Growing up, I always had a tendency to have a one track mind. Success, in my opinion, followed one perfect plan- a plan in which any moment astray from the path was considered a failure rather than an experience. Blame my Virgo-induced perfectionist tendencies or my grandmother’s headstrong genes but I was determined to live out the meticulous map within my mind. I became consumed by the skewed perspective that these steps were the only ones that could be taken to assure my happiness and my success- quickly I forgot to embrace my journey as I continued to reach for one destination and then the next.
My goals were the ultimate perfectionist dream- with no room for error and certainly no room for any one else taking control. Although there were many of these goals, I’d like to focus on one that has been the most trying for me to overcome in my transition from high school to college: make a best friend. Seems attainable enough, right? Wrong. I didn’t want any old best friend; I wanted the best friend. The type of best friend where you can stand with her as your maid of honor at your wedding and think to yourself “wow, good thing the teacher sat me next to this crazy in kindergarten”. The type of best friend where everyone knows you are each other’s person (á la Christina and Meredith) and wouldn’t dare come between. The type of best friend you can call at 2am and know they need you as much as you need them. Unfortunately as one goes through life, one realizes there are many factors that go into the success of a friendship. Time wears and tears, boys come and go, personalities develop and can become divisive. I’ve always considered myself a stand-up friend, and when my relationships began to change course, I didn’t know how to deal. This wasn’t in my plan, so why was it happening?
I became so enveloped with creating the perfect friendships that I layered unnecessary stress after stress on my relationships until they eventually cracked. After falling out with my group of close girlfriends my senior year of high school I broke. Getting a fresh start with new college friends felt like the only salvation and I eagerly awaited my freshman fall. In my first three semesters of college my friendships ebbed and flowed, but I began to find a solid group of guys and gals I could lean on, and a best friend I felt was finally the right match. The pressures of school became enormous and each of us dealt in our own ways. I took pride in being involved and didn’t have as much time to socialize as my friends did. In my mind, I thought this would mean we could pick up where we left off but I quickly learned that this isn’t the case for everyone. I could sense my best friend and I becoming more distant and was absolutely assured of this when I realized that she didn’t consider me to be her best friend. Now I know that labels are just that, but nothing hurts more than caring for someone more than they care for you. When a mutual friend of ours (one whom she was much closer to than I was) took her own life this past fall, my best friend cut me out of her life completely. I tried to be there as support in the way I would want someone to be present for me but was ignored. I attributed the uncharacteristic behavior to grief and patiently waited. The past two years I have had my own mental battles and losing a friend to suicide was the final straw. I decided to leave school for the semester to work on myself but while I tried to check on my best friend’s well being I was continuously ignored. Eventually upon returning to campus to pick up my stuff in my dorm room, I tried to meet with her only to be met with more silence. The last night in New Orleans there was finally a response- however it was sent to my mother instead of myself. In it’s most simplified form it accused me of stalker-like behavior and proclaimed that we were no longer friends. I cried and cried and cried. And then it dawned on me: I have spent so much of my time forcing relationships where I felt as though I was giving more than I received that I was completely discrediting those around me who actually showed support and cared. It was so much easier for me to focus on the one relationship that wasn’t working (I was determined to have the perfect best friend relationship straight out of the movies), that I shoved the relationships that were reciprocated and really mattered to me on the back burner. I realize now that it is ok not to be someone’s best friend- unfortunately it has taken a few failed friendships to reach this point but thank God I have, because now I can put all of that new energy into people who care for me as much as I care for them.
Returning to school in the fall makes me incredibly nervous, but I find reassurance in the fact that I’ve been blessed with multiple friends who are what I really need. When my mind created the neurotic path for myself to follow, it failed to recognize the nuances that come along with best friends. I’d be lying if I said I never want a best friend and I’d definitely be lying if I claimed that these lost friendships weren’t some of the most hurtful times I’ve experienced thus far but I am ready to move on. I have forgiven, but mostly I am thankful. As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20, and looking back has taught me so much about myself that I never would’ve learned without experiencing those friendships and their failures. In the spirit of forgiveness and reflection, I forgive those who hurt me and I apologize for the hurt I caused you and would like to thank you for your lessons. I’m currently working on maintaining healthy and happy relationships, and without the obstacles I experienced in ours I would never have reached this point. So here I stand with open arms, accepting that my life doesn’t have to follow this one lane highway and it’s ok not to have a best friend. Maybe tomorrow I’ll miss having that partner in crime, but it’s a process to heal and deal and I’m ready to experience this journey without racing to the destination.