When I was a little girl, I had a BFF (best friend forever) all the way through elementary school. She was the kind of girl that I could hang out with for hours giggling, sharing all our secrets and dreams. We’d play, explore and plan our lives. Nothing was off limits. I remember a ‘friendship forever’ feeling that made me feel AOK even when things around me weren’t. But eventually, we grew up and went our separate ways. We’d touch base every once in a while, or bump into one another at an event. But we certainly didn’t share our secrets anymore. I thought this was a normal part of growing up, but does it have to be?
Am I the only one who wants a BFF? I doubt it and I have a theory as to why they don’t come easily.
When we are young, we have our whole life in front of us. Possibilities, dreams, fantasies, anything goes! As we grow up we stop believing in the usual things (tooth fairies and such) but we also stop believing in the ‘anything is possible’ dreams (like being an astronaut or ballerina). We start worrying about what we don’t do right, or what can never happen. We focus on our faults and our failures and what’s wrong with us. We focus on all the people we meet that are doing so well, whether it’s a successful career, beautiful family or worldly adventures.
I can clearly remember moments when I would meet someone that seemed interesting and fun, someone I would like to get to know better. But I would instantly think ‘they would never want to be friends with me’ or ‘once they know I deal with depression they won’t stick around’. So with thoughts like this, it is no wonder I struggled to make real friends. I was too worried that they would find me depressing, insecure or just too weird. In a nutshell, I felt unworthy. So in order to overcome this feeling, I would bury my anxiety and sadness and mask them with laughter. I would pray that no one would see through the charade, which of course, only added to the problem.
The irony is that now that I write about my mental health challenges, and share them openly, I have made more genuine friends (and reconnected with my BFF from elementary school!). I believe this is because we are all just wanting to be our imperfect selves, but sometimes we just need the other person to go first.