I am not the best friend.
I'm not very good at helping, for one thing. You know those people who bring meals or clean up the dishes or watch kids? They suggest they do these things before you even hope that they'll offer? Yeah, I'm not one of those. I will bring you lasagna, but more like a month or two after you've had your baby, and chances are it won't be very good, because I'm talentless in the kitchen.
I hardly ever know the right thing to say. I know people who do. They're amazing. When they listen it's like they're tuned into the right station, the one where you are saying exactly what you mean and everyone understands you. They hear what you mean for for them to hear, and the things they say are the things you need. I'm the one who listens, who listens hard, but who can't figure out which of the nine thousand things I'm thinking and feeling is the one that needs to come out. So most of the time I say nothing. Or I murmur sympathetically. I'm pretty good at that.
I'm selfish with my time. Sometimes I'm available, but I don't want to go anywhere. Or talk to anyone. I'm an introvert, albeit a pretty social one (it's possible!), and I'm hardly ever unhappy with my own company. I can find a million things to do on my own and it's a long time before I miss the sound of someone else's voice. I jealously guard my free hours. I'm discerning with my weekends. I love you, but I don't need to hang out with you all the time.
I'm awkward in groups. I would rather - SO much rather - hang out with Just You, than you and other people. I can't compete with them. I know I'm not the best friend, so I need to maximize my opportunities. That's really all it is, you know. I'm at my best with Just You. I can sit and talk to Just You for hours, honestly. But when there are others around, I get anxious. Sometimes it's really fun, so I keep trying. But sometimes it's exhausting. Sometimes I come home feeling so out of sorts, so disappointed, so confused about how it all worked out.
I'm a dork, too. Everyone has their dork subjects, I know, but I tend to think mine are dorkier than yours. Practically no one I know blogs, yet I can wax rhapsodic on Blogs, my Blog Friends, my Favorite Reads, and The Latest Blogging Gossip until your ears bleed. I'm sorry. It's awful. Same goes for whatever stupid thing I'm currently hooked on, like the enneagram or that article in the New Yorker or that new thing I learned how to do with CSS or that earthshakingly important revelation I had while packing up my grandmother's china. Sometimes I'm trying to find out if you're a dork too and sometimes you are and that is a happy moment indeed. Other times I just feel like a... dork.
I am, I know, all sorts of other things I don't even know to name.
I'm not as unhelpful and silent and withdrawn and awkward and dorky as I used to be. I feel like I know what people mean, now, about getting to know yourself. There's a difference now, there is. I'm no longer afraid to show myself. I can handle it. And I don't worry about that label 'best friend'. I don't have to figure out which friend is my best one. I don't have to figure out which friend thinks I'm her best. Honestly, the last time I had a best friend was three schools ago.
But I have best friends. I do. I have this group of women who - and I honestly and truly believe this - God was saving up for me way back when I was a lonely unhappy fifteen-year-old kid, with plenty of friends, none of them good, sitting in her bedroom closet praying for a real friend. A best friend.
If only I'd known that on my third day on campus I'd get a knock on my door inviting me to a new student barbecue and twelve years later we'd be driving somewhere and she'd say, "When we're old, we should totally get rooms next to each other in the nursing home." That when my first child is born and my mom is halfway across the world, my dishes get done, my refrigerator gets filled, I'll shower and nap without even noticing how it happened, certainly without having asked for help. That we'll almost miss our flight because we're so busy talking. That when she moves back home I'll feel like my arm is chopped off, and I'll cry like it too. That there will be a wedding I can't even imagine not attending.
These people help. They know the right thing to say. I am not afraid of being the third wheel, because there's no such thing. They bring me out of my awkwardness. They tolerate and even engage the dorkness. They are nicer and better people, more likeable and friendlier and, let's face it, so much better looking than I am. So yeah, I am not a best friend, but I am inexplicably blessed to know people who are.
I hope you have a few of these in your life too. Bonus points if they are the types to not pass judgment if you spend every hour of your 48-hour girls' weekend away stuffing your face with assorted baked goods.