A few months ago, I had what felt like a momentous conversation with a friend.
We were messaging fast & furious on the Book of the Face (something I rarely do as I envision a Zuckerberg-glitch suddenly making all those secret tidbits public) following a long discussion-thread on my personal wall.
I’d started the thread in an effort to find a yoga retreat and, as a result of poor phrasing on my behalf, had been misunderstood as posting a mass invitation to all peoples! to attend said retreat with me.
“You’re just too popular.” My friend joked. “Everyone wants to be with you!”
“Actually, not.” I clarified. “I’m OK with it, but I seem to always be everyone’s second best friend.”
Typing those words made me feel extremely vulnerable.
I adore this woman. She’s someone we all adore and want to be connected with.
Ours began as an online friendship, we’ve met up at conferences, and I admire her both personally and professionally.
Revealing this fact to her felt deeply intimate even if, to my mind, it was also simultaneously easily seen in my online interactions and at events.
I seem to always be everyone’s second best friend.
I’m uncertain how I anticipated my friend would respond.
I wasn’t fishing for a No way! That’s not true!! I’m a woman who doesn’t sit well with false words and, whether my friend saw the veracity in my statement or not, it rang true to me.
I didn’t know if she’d think Yeah, I’ve kinda noticed that about you, too! and simply respond with a vague platitude.
The message which popped up next on my screen surprised me:
I feel that very same way about myself.
For the next few minutes our messages flew back & forth at an even swifter pace than before.
We bonded over the fact we both felt we were the “OK, so if XXX can’t come let’s invite Carla!” individual in friendships.
We mused how we might not be the immediate “Ugh. I feel sad! I need a sounding board!” choice for friends to call when struggling, but the one tapped only after others turned out to be busy.
We dialogued about why this might be and how this may have happened in so many of our relationships.
We concluded, at this point in our lives, it was all merely information.
We were neither glad nor sad. We weren’t hurt and we weren’t offended. We accepted our reality as it was and chose to be OK with it.
I seem to always be everyone’s second best friend.
On my end our conversation sparked a stepping back of sorts.
A pondering of why, for many, second best is viewed in a negative light.
I don’t know I love being the second best friend or the second best writer etc., but my perspective is this:
Given the large number in most every situation (potential friends, women writers) second best isn’t too shabby!
I’m content being #2 (I’m too type B to be Hertz) even when, to my mind, I was r-e-a-l-l-y close to being #1.
I’d moved on from these thoughts until they were recently all brought back to mind.
I was away and had happily handed over Child & Doodle to the Husband.
A few hours into my adventure I received this text:
You’re my second most important thing.
The Child’s words and her youthful honesty made me smile. She intended no malice identifying him as second–to her it was merely a statement of fact.
When I returned I asked if his feelings were hurt (Not at all. I know you’re her safe-person). His response paralleled my own experience with being #2 BFF:
Even in our winner-takes-all society I don’t feel less-than because I’m not #1.
I look around, see how many others there are, and happily process the information I’ve come before them in your world.
And I’m OK with that.
- Are you, too, consistently a #2 BFF?
- In friendship and other arenas does being #2 spark you to try harder or are you, as I am, OK with not being #1?
Bea saysJuly 31, 2017 at 4:55 am
Here is another way I need to be a little bit more like you are, Carla.
I’m OK with not being the best at lots of things. It hurts my feelings when I perceive myself to be a second tier BFF.
Christine @ Love, Life, Surf saysJuly 31, 2017 at 5:59 am
Me too! We’ve talked about this regarding a different realm of life and mostly I’m OK with it but there are times when it stings. But I think that I’m too old now to get caught up in all of it!
messymimi saysJuly 31, 2017 at 6:34 am
It’s okay not to be number 1. To my way of thinking and in my business, somebody has to come behind and clean up, and that’s my job.
Carla saysJuly 31, 2017 at 7:50 am
<3 <3 <3 <3
Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home saysJuly 31, 2017 at 6:45 am
I’m often #2–and I’m really ok with it. There is so much less pressure and lower expectations. I think it’s more rewarding that way!
Carla saysJuly 31, 2017 at 7:50 am
Debbie saysJuly 31, 2017 at 7:20 am
I do definitely identify with this. In my case, I think it’s because I don’t dedicate enough to be #1. So it is my fault, though not because I’m not worthy, but because I have chosen that position.
MCM Mama Runs saysJuly 31, 2017 at 7:24 am
I’m a second best friend way more often than I’m a first BFF (not sure I’m anyone’s #1, except maybe Shoo and Beer Geek). I’m ok with that – I don’t have any one person I’d call my #1 friend. I have a small number of people that I go to for different things and I’m ok with that as well. Maybe it will bother me more when I no longer have my mom as my #1 supporter?
Carla saysJuly 31, 2017 at 7:49 am
you make such a great point, too, when you say YOU DONT HAVE A NUMBER ONE FRIEND. Food for thought here for me for sure.
michelle saysJuly 31, 2017 at 7:50 am
It’s like we were made from the same mold. I always feel the same way.
shelley saysJuly 31, 2017 at 8:31 am
Ok, I really thought I was the only one who frequently felt that way. It’s never really bothered me a much because it took a lot of pressure off. Being #1 brings more responsibility than I want sometimes.
Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au saysJuly 31, 2017 at 8:33 am
I think I’m quite often an adendum friend – someone who gets invited if they haven’t seen me for a while. That’s okay with me because I’m really bad at hanging out in groups and I don’t cope too well with multitudes of friends. I’m not even a BFF type of gal so being #2 or #3 is okay with me.
Karen Austin saysJuly 31, 2017 at 8:49 am
Agreed. The older I get, the more my ambition has dulled. But in a good way. I have limited energy, limited time left on earth, and I’m more interested in enjoying each day instead of earning the blue ribbons…even imaginary ones for #1 Friend. Keep up the mediocre work. ; )
Haralee saysJuly 31, 2017 at 8:50 am
In the realm of tweens and teenagers being a best friend and having a best friend is critical. As an adult we get caught up in family, work, and commitments and I think that critical have to have is sidelined. To be a #2 Bfs for me would be an honor and great. I am totally OK with out being #1.
Michele saysJuly 31, 2017 at 10:06 am
I am not even usually second! I admire and am a bit jealous of people who have besties, or even a group of friends who have been together for ever.
I am not that girl. I am further down everyone’s list than even #2. I am pretty ok with it though.
Benny saysJuly 31, 2017 at 10:30 am
I love being #2. I actually prefer to be #5 or #6. I’m a bit of a homebody and would rather have a nap 😉
Jill saysJuly 31, 2017 at 11:58 am
I have one friend whom I KNOW I am her #1…but to everyone else, I don’t think I’m even on their radar, and that’s totally fine. I got my soul sister, she’s got me…everyone else can suck it. 🙂
Jody - Fit at 59 saysJuly 31, 2017 at 2:34 pm
I think I accepted this way back in my childhood but for me with all the other things that made me feel less, this did too… So mow, yes I still feel this way. I still fight the less than feelings but worst is I am not open like I used to be to letting people in to be a close friend… I just can’t go there even at my old age….
Leah saysJuly 31, 2017 at 3:52 pm
I have several best friends. They may not feel the same way about me, but there’s room at the top for more than one so there doesn’t need to be a #1. Does that make sense?
Stephanie Weaver, MPH, CWHC saysJuly 31, 2017 at 3:55 pm
Ah, I have been thinking about something along these lines. A friend said to me, “If you want to take your business to the next level, you are going to need to do X.” And I have been thinking what seems like a radical thought. What if THIS LEVEL is just fine? What if I stay at this level forever? We all assume that #1 is the goal. What if it’s not? I haven’t written about this yet… still mulling. But I clicked through to this piece because I suspected it would resonate with this idea, which it does. Thanks.
Jennifer saysJuly 31, 2017 at 4:27 pm
I’m a one woman wolf pack . . . so I don’t even know what being 2nd best friend is like . . . or 3rd or 4th. Seriously though, as a non-shy introvert, there are issues . . . I have an extreme extrovert friend (OMG, you are going to probably guess who) and while she was in my top group (which is very small, haha), I figured I was like 3 or 4 with her . . . and then I realized a couple years later it was more like 10 or 12 or 20. It stung at first because I let it, but then realized we all have different needs in a friend relationship . . .and also that they are so dynamic
Coco saysJuly 31, 2017 at 8:22 pm
I’m not sure I have any friends where I’m #1 anymore, but I’ve play second-string in a lot of friendships. 😉
AdjustedReality saysJuly 31, 2017 at 9:34 pm
Interesting thought. As pukeworthy as it sounds, the husband and I are each other’s besties and that’s the most important thing. We have a great group of friends, but I’ll be honest, I don’t make the effort to be #1 to anyone else.
Jennifer Dunham saysAugust 1, 2017 at 7:50 am
Love the quotes. Be your own first best friend. All others will naturally be your second. Thanks for sharing.
Susan Bonifant saysAugust 1, 2017 at 2:13 pm
I used to feel that way but somewhere along the way, as I felt more secure (or probably when I embraced my introversion) I found second or third or even fourth to be far less stressful.
Not so in my thirties, however. Not so at all.
Deborah saysAugust 6, 2017 at 10:47 pm
I wish I was the most important thing in someone’s life. I possibly am in my mother’s – though she couldn’t admit that to my brother (and partially the reason I am is because he wouldn’t care). I think my parents always put my brother and I before everything else. I would have said each other, but I suspect that changed after we were old enough to take care of ourselves and my dad was unwell and developed dementia etc…
I’ve always felt a little sad that I’ve not had a partner to put me first – care about me above everything else, though maybe if you’re in that situation you worry they don’t…. that they prioritise their work or their own parents etc…
On the friend front I think when younger I worried more about who was whose best friend, but saying that I grew up with A best friend. We were neighours and lived next door and went to and from school together every day for 12 years. Things changed from Uni onwards and now I tend to have small groups of friends but conscious they have families / other priorities and other friends.
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