Your whole life you spend reading books and watching shows and movies, and you see various interactions between best friends hoping that you will one day have a friend just as great, one that would die for you, and one that you would be able to tell all your secrets to. That friend who will be with you during the most important moments in your life.
If you think about it, the media has made tons of money off the idea of friendship. Think back to two of the most popular sitcoms in recent history, Friends and How I Met Your Mother. Both of those stories, although they have other underlying arcs (particularly the one on which the title is based—meeting the mother), revolve around the idea of hanging out with your best friends, roommates and, eventually, lovers, pretty much every day of your life. Even if you weren't a fan of either show, either from your own experience or based on what you have watched, most people usually hope for that friend with whom you can spend a lot of your time with and count on.
I often think about how I never did that and am saddened when others talk about their experiences, constantly wishing that I could go back and do the same. However, the more I have thought about it, I am not sure if living with a friend that I can talk to every day was really the part that I missed. The more I focused in on the idea of it all, what I really felt like I have missed out on is having a "true best friend." I have always thought of my mom as my best friend, which is great and I will never down the idea of that, however, I wish I could've had a best friend who was my own age and gender, and although I have had friends, many of which I have had great memories with, not one has fit into that "ideal" category as portrayed by T.V. shows and movies.
So I started to think further, something I do way too often. What really makes a best friend? Maybe I do have one, but due to unreal expectations, I have pushed them away and never allowed them to hold that title which seems so important to have. In my mind a best friend, will always be there, will always want to talk to you, will include you in all their plans, will always ask for your opinion in their decisions, and will accept you for your flaws despite disagreements, you may have. Does that sound too perfect? Honestly, I do not think so, I have seen others have this person in their lives. Unfortunately, every time, I have allowed myself to believe that I have found my best friend, that friend introduces me, either directly or through stories, to their person who is "really" their best friend.
This thought process of mine has often lead me to feel lonely, even when I am not alone. I am engaged and could not be happier and more in love with the girl I am soon to marry. I have friends that meet with from time to time whom I support and they support me while enjoying each others' company, and a family (although we often disagree with each other) I know is there for me in my times of need and success. So what am I missing? Why as lucky as I am to have those people do I feel like I have been left out to from some social experience?
Turns out, I have been looking in the wrong places, and approaching this thoughts and feelings of mine all wrong. What did I say defines a best friend—let's look back—"In my mind a best friend, will always be there, will want to talk to you always, will include you in all their plans, will always ask for your opinion in their decisions, and will accept you for your flaws and disagreements." In all of that, there is one piece I never realized I did not mention, a best friend does not have to be a person.
For the last eight years, I have had someone that is always there when I need him. Even if he would rather be somewhere else, I have had someone who I am willing to give up everything else for even when times are tough. There is someone in the good and bad moments who provides me with the strongest sense of comfort and someone who can not stand being apart from me even if it is for just a few minutes. That someone, my best friend, is the guy in the picture above.
He may not be human, he may not be the most conventional example or an obvious example of a best friend, but truly he is all I have asked for and more. Stories, real and fiction, tend to refer to dogs as "man's best friend" because of how loyal they are to their master, however, in my case, and I'm sure some of you would agree, that dogs, or whatever pet you may have can, in fact, be the best friend you have always wanted. When you feel like crying, you can hug that friend until you don't need to anymore. When you don't want anyone around you because you are so furious, somehow your pet sitting at your feet doesn't bother you and petting them slowly dwindles down that anger you felt. When you are happy there is no one that shares your excitement like they do, and sometimes they might feel it even more because your happiness and approval is all they seek.
At times I told myself I was unable to move out from my parents during my college years because of my dog since I couldn't afford an apartment that would allow him to live there. I have told myself that I can't travel abroad because I have no one to leave him with. Truth is, I could leave him in a boarding site, I could have friends and family watch him, I could have done many things that would allow me to do what I made excuses for, but in the end, I did not want to leave him.
Snickers is my best friend, I would do anything for him and him for me (or at least as much as his paws let him do). I will protect him from everything and fight anyone that talks bad about him, and I know he will protect me from harm as well. I will comfort him when he has nightmares, and he will let me hold him while I live out some stressful days that may feel like nightmares.
A best friend may be defined one way but the media, and by the experiences of others, but honestly, the best friend that I have ended up with, "normal" or not, is the best I could've asked for and I would not change him for the world!