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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Be Your Own Best Friend

I've never been one to call my significant other my "best friend." I don't care if anyone else does, of course, I just don't think there's anything wrong with admitting that romantic relationships are inherently different than friend relationships. Joel is my most favorite person in the world. But he's not my best friend.

In fact, I've always secretly had an aversion to the term "best friend" in general. It seems so exclusionary. It reminds me of a part in one of my favorite children's books, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Daywhen Alexander gets demoted to third best friend and then tells that little punkass frienemy Paul what's up:

"...Paul said I wasn’t his best friend anymore. He said that Philip Parker was his best friend and Albert Moyo was his next best friend and that I was only his third best friend.

I hope you sit on a tack, I said to Paul. I hope the next time you get a double-decker strawberry ice cream cone the ice cream part falls off the cone part and lands in Australia."

Harsh, Alexander. I would never wish a fallen ice cream cone on even my worst enemies. But still, that kind of hierarchical bullshit would make anyone cranky, so I feel you, guy.

Source

Of course, we're not children anymore and it shouldn't be that big of a deal. You can clearly have more than one BFF without assigning numbers. But the childhood fears of exclusion and envy never really go away. They're all in the backs of our minds, even if we'll never admit it out loud. Things like Facebook and other social networks only help to exacerbate these unpleasant feelings. We're all just children deep down inside, wishing our friends would sit on a tack whenever we feel like we've been unfairly left out. The difference is that adults are (usually) more logical and can get over it without telling their friends they hope they sit on a tack. Because it doesn't mean your friends don't like you, they just have other friends and a life and shit. And that's great! I hope everyone has lots of friends! Except for Paul. Fuck Paul.

But I have a radical idea that could maybe help us all feel a little better about ourselves, if only by a fraction:

Try being your own best friend. 

No, don't dump all your BFFs. You need them. That's not what I mean. They're still your friends, close friends, soul sisters, blood brothers, sisters from another mister, boos, brosephs, whatever. But I believe something magical can happen when you choose to love yourself the way you would a First Best Friend. 

A lot of people are so mean to themselves, myself included. We make a mistake at something and think, "Who am I kidding? I can't do this. I'll never be good at this. I should give up now before I further humiliate myself." Or we accidentally say something awkward and stupid in public and think, "I'm so fucking awkward I don't know why people allow me to be in public ever." We look at ourselves in the mirror and hate on our looks or the way our outfit hangs on our bodies. We call ourselves lazy losers for choosing to watch another show on Netflix instead of doing something productive. If we do something good, we question whether it's good enough or whether we deserve recognition. 

My point is: We say a whole host of terrible things to ourselves that we would never in a million years say to a friend (unless you're a mean, shitty friend). Your friend says she had a rough day and messed something up at work, what do you say? You encourage her. You tell her everyone makes mistakes. You give her hugs and/or booze to make her feel a little less crappy in this moment and maybe talk about how she can do better next time. 

My notebook.

So why are we so shitty to ourselves? Why can't we be compassionate, understanding, and supportive to ourselves in the way we would to a friend or fuck buddy romantic partner? The next time you're thinking of your friends, I dare you to add your name and face to the list in your head. Make it Number One. You're your First Best Friend and everyone else comes next, in whatever order floats your boat (but don't rank them out loud like Paul, because fuck Paul). There's power in language. Calling yourself your Number One doesn't make you arrogant or pretentious. It doesn't  mean that you always put your needs before others (though sometimes you should). You still have beautiful relationships with other humans. You just have one with yourself, too.

Considering yourself your First Best Friend simply means that, the next time you fuck something up (and you will, 'cause everyone does), you're much more likely to treat yourself with kindness, understanding, and forgiveness, which is obviously better than abusing yourself. By the same token, the next time you do something super awesome that you would normally question whether or not is "good enough," you can say to yourself: "Good job, buddy! You fucking nailed it! You're so awesome. Let's get a beer together." Then have a beer. You deserve it, friend.



3 comments:

  1. I agree with you. We should all be our own best friend. Most of us have been raised to consider ourselves inferior. Maybe even I at my age can learn to not be so hard on myself. Your article makes me think. Glad I read it.

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  2. You're so right. You've explained me exactly as I am. My husband often points out these things (how forgiving I am to him for something, but then I am just awful to myself for the same thing). It's just a matter of how to be your best friend... Maybe I should sit down in front of the mirror with a coffee.

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  3. You're so right. You've explained me exactly as I am. My husband often points out these things (how forgiving I am to him for something, but then I am just awful to myself for the same thing). It's just a matter of how to be your best friend... Maybe I should sit down in front of the mirror with a coffee.

    ReplyDelete

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