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7 Steps To Being The Best Best Friend Ever -or- Happy Birthday, Jenna!

Today is a very special day because today is Jenna's 30th Birthday. 
That means that she and I have been best friends for half of our lifetime, approximately 15 years. 
I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure that makes us professional besties. 

So, with about a decade and a half under our belts, I feel we are more than capable of sharing with you the secrets of a long-lasting friendship. Not just a friendship, but a bond worthy of a preceding "best." 

1. Always be honest


Life isn't always perfect. Everyone knows this. So why do we walk around pretending it is? Why do we perpetrate on our Facebook and Instagram profiles so that everyone thinks we got it goin' on? Someone has to know the real us. It helps if that someone isn't afraid to tell us when we're wrong. Be honest with your best friend and listen when they're honest with you. Knowing you've always got each other's best interest at heart makes it a lot easy to swallow their constructive criticism.

2. Don't be afraid to show raw emotions


Jenna and I took our friendship from "Yay, we're in high school and we're buds!" to "BESTIES FOR LIFE" because of one pivotal moment. I had been harboring so many feelings and emotions about certain things (oh my GOSH teen angst!) and I confided in her. And by confided I actually mean unloaded without a hint of a warning. From then on we both knew that we were each other's open door. That we could say anything and everything, just to vent and let it all out.

For several years now, Jenna and I have been living really far apart, which makes it so hard to remember that we can call on each other at any time. But whenever one of us forgets, the other always brings the fact back tot he forefront. Hence the longterm friendship despite the long distance. Which brings me to...

3. Phone dates are everything

Jenna and I attended high school and college together. After college I worked in Oklahoma City for a little while, but went back to Tulsa as soon as I could get my booty back there. That placed a two hour drive between us which, at the time, seemed like such a hindrance. We made a decision and a promise to each other to make it work. We scheduled weekly phone dates (coincidentally on Monday nights during The Hills). We knew we could always call on each other.

Then I went and made matters worse and moved to freaking Los Angeles. Now, 1300 miles away from each other, these phone dates are more important than ever. FaceTime is preferred. God bless technology.


4. Genuinely Invest

This should go without saying, right?
Wrong. Friendships fall apart because people stop caring. People no longer have a vested interest in how your day went, what you're up to, or how you're feeling. When it goes from "Tell me everything you've been doing!" to "Meh, I'll just wait for a Facebook update," the bond has gone cold. Really, though, it's not our fault. It's something that happens naturally.

I remember once I was having one of those days in high school that you just don't want to end. Everything is fun and perfect. The future looks bright. You are overcome with a feeling that things could really always be this way. I went home and mentioned to my mom that I loved my friends and wanted them to be my friends forever. She popped my silly little girl balloon wide open when she told me that people grow and they change. She let me know it was unfair to assume my friends then would be my friends forever.

As we've aged, (that makes us sound so OLD. Jesus, 30, where did you come from?) Jenna and I have gone down extremely different paths. She stayed focused on her calling: to help children and families. She settled down not too long after college and now has a little family of her own. I have changed my career goals at least 217 times, I've moved almost as many times, and marriage was once but now is no longer even thinking about peeking up over that horizon for me. So, you see, the things Jenna and I have in common are much fewer than they once were.

But the most important thing we have in common is each other. The fact that I can call her and pick up the conversation like I just talked to her yesterday is perfect. It doesn't matter if our lives are vastly different. We genuinely care how the other is doing. We are a key part of each other's life.

5. Loyalty = Secrecy

There are things that I know.
But I ain't tellin.

There are things that I've done. She knows. But she ain't tellin.
At least she better not be tellin.
I'm not talking about hiding a murder or anything. (Why? Did you hear something?)
I mean even the tiny things. Feelings, regrets, fantastic hopes. Best friends are like a living breathing Whisper app without the fear that someone might find you out.

That being said, a best friend also knows when a secret shouldn't be kept. When it's dangerous for you to hold onto and when you should seek help outside of yourself. She's there for you through that rough patch and every time you're reminded of it. You forgive her because you know she told because she loved you and, if you're honest with yourself, you know you're better off because she told.

6. Use the memories to lift each other up, not hold each other back

Memories are supposed to be fond, blissful things. 
"Hey, remember when you had spinach stuck in your braces and you asked a senior to Prom?"
Not cool to bring that up at the reunion. 

Only remind your best friend of the past when it's helpful. For instance:
"I'm only going to marry a guy if  he can sing, play the guitar, and play the piano."
"Remember in high school when we made that 'Like' 'Love' 'Marry' board in our dorm room?"
"Oh yeah! How funny!"
"Yeah. Do you also remember how the few guys that fell into the 'Marry' category were either complete dicks or into dicks?"
"Right."

See? Helpful. 

7 Never stop being silly kids

Jenna and I met when we were high school freshmen. At that point in our adolescence we had no choice but to be completely awkward and ridiculous. We've seen each other at our silliest states of nerdom. Therefore, we have nothing to hide from each other. Plus, isn't it a relief to be the rawest version of yourself? That's what Jenna and I get to do with each other, even today. Jealous?

 We've seen each other at our most triumphant points. Times when we were so proud to say "That's my bestie!" But here's the thing: we've also seen each other at our darkest, most embarrassing, heartbreaking points. We're proud to share our connection at those times, too.

People have told us that when one of us walks into the room, the other one's face lights up. We are both sides of the story. The optimist and the realist. The good news and the bad news. The hug and the kick in the ass. We are two sides of the same coin.

I love my other half and I wish her the happiest of birthdays. Bring on the next 15 years!


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