The estimated reading time for this post is 2 minutes.

Alyson, Amber, Susan, and I had a great discussion about best friends and what that term means to us in our episode this week. I’ve written before about friendship, and about how difficult it can be to make friends as an adult. I want to take a little time and space to look back on my childhood friendships.

In first grade, I was starting at a new school and didn’t know anyone. The music teacher, Mr. G, found out that I was new, as was Olivia, and at recess, I said to Olivia, “We’re both new, so we should be friends.” And just like that, we were. We were in the same class for the next three years, so we remained friends. I remember being friends with Rob, too; we bonded by stomping ant hills at recess (the ants weren’t aggressive, so this wasn’t a life-risking game). I knew Rob all through school, while Olivia eventually moved away.

In sixth grade, I met my One True Best Friend, Mandy. She and I clicked on a level that I’d never clicked with anyone, and for the next three years we were each other’s best friends. It was a period of movie-worthy friendship, with the hours-long phone calls and trick-or-treating together, and eating lunch together and all that. I also remember when we sort of broke up. It wasn’t a big fight. I just realized one day, in 9th grade, that she was becoming a different person than she had been (and, of course, so was I, but I didn’t do introspection at that point). It broke my heart. I was losing my best friend.

For the rest of high school and college, I didn’t have a best friend again. I had friends, yes, who I’d do things with on occasion, but never that level of connection and emotional support I had with Mandy.

In the episode, we all agreed that the term “best friend” isn’t really a great term. It’s exclusive, and puts people you may be close to outside your circle. It’s a ranking system, which can be very unfair to important people in your life. I think we all use “my people” instead — that circle of friends who are all close to you, though perhaps in different ways. I do this too; some of my people are easier to talk to about certain things in my life. And I think that’s a good thing. I don’t always want to dump everything on my husband, or on Amber, or on Alyson. Having a circle of close friends can spread the emotional burden that we all take on as part of friendship, that we all sometimes carry for our friends, or allow our friends to carry for us.

I probably said this in the podcast, but my people now are some of the best people I’ve had in my life. I have a circle of friends who care about me, who love me, who want me to be happy, and for whom I care and love and wish happiness for. I think having this circle is a much healthier option for me than having just one person I consider my best friend, and I consider myself lucky.