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What Really Is a Best Friend?

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CU Boulder chapter.

I was born into a military family, which meant that I had to move every 2-3 years. Back when social media wasn’t as popular, it was harder to maintain friendships, especially in elementary school.

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The term “best friend” was thrown around quite a bit when I was younger, and the term is used relatively loosely when you’re ten. You could meet someone on the playground and talk for five minutes, and then suddenly, you’re best friends. But the conditions of friendship change as you grow up.

When I was eleven, I attended a middle school with other kids whose parents were also in the military. I wasn’t the only one who moved around, so I took comfort in knowing that everyone was in the same boat as me. But then my family moved again, and I attended a Catholic private school in Rhode Island for a year. My classmates did not understand me. 

At the private school, my grade consisted of twelve people. And those twelve classmates had grown up together. I was the outsider invading this close-knit group of people, and they all knew I was moving in the upcoming summer. Because of this, I never became good friends with any of them.

The idea of having no friends within that community did not phase me. I was used to having short-term friendships, and I did not get my hopes up. But the fact remained that for a year, I was isolated from people my age outside of school hours.

Then, you guessed it, my family moved again. This time, we were moving to Germany, and we stayed there for three years. I felt hopeful that I would finally make long-term friendships and maybe even have a best friend.

The closest I have come to a best friend is a girl I met in Germany in seventh grade. We remained close friends until we both moved after our freshman year of high school. I finally felt a deeper connection with someone that went beyond just seeing each other in class every day. 

But then we moved to different states and could not see each other as much. Our friendship slowly faded, and I was out to find my next best friend. Unfortunately, that did not happen.

I spent much of my sophomore and junior years of high school switching friend groups, so I never formed a close friendship with anyone during those years. It wasn’t until COVID hit that I made my final friend-group switch and found people I truly connected with. I had a whole group of best friends, not just one.

After my senior year of high school, we all went to different colleges and slowly drifted apart, leaving me best friendless once again. I already prepared myself to meet new people and gain new close friends.

College taught me that people have differing conditions of friendship, both good and bad. I’ve seen people upset about losing their long-term friends from home, and I never understood the pain. I always thought, “Why are they crying over this? Why don’t they just make new friends?”

That’s when I caught myself not understanding the true value of friendship and how it affects people in different ways. I’ve never felt upset about losing a friend, especially if they did not value me. 

My perspective on friendship has changed. I’ve learned to allow myself to get closer to people rather than keeping my distance in order to prepare for my next move. After reflecting on my past friendships, I can appreciate my current ones even more. 

Maya Paustenbaugh is a writer for the Her Campus University of Colorado-Boulder chapter. Outside of Her Campus, Maya works at the CU Boulder Bookstore on campus and enjoys reading in her free time. She was one of the editors of her high school yearbook for two years and is currently a multimedia journalist intern for Bucket List Community Cafe. Maya is a junior studying Journalism with a minor in Political Science and Leadership. In her free time, Maya enjoys going to the gym, re-watching Harry Potter, and visiting her family in Fort Collins, CO. She also loves any water related activity and baking (especially cakes). Maya learned how to ski when she lived in Germany and can be found skiing around Colorado in the winter!