“IDK My BFF [Heather, Beth, Jacki, David, Julia, Lauren, Leah]?” (Or, Why I Love My Seven Best Friends)

by Rachel on November 17, 2011

Do you remember the “IDK my BFF Jill” commercial? Classic.

So, today I’d like to tell you about my best friends. I currently have seven.

I think some people find this weird, like you can only have one best friend because the superlative “best” implies “the one and only who is better than everyone else.” But I always use the term “best friend” to indicate a status, or, really, the depth of a friendship. Once I reach a certain level of friendship with a person, I just call her my best friend. To me, saying you can only have one best friend is like saying you can only have one sibling.

There are a few ways I might start calling someone a best friend. Knowing them a long time helps, because that means they knew me when I had any or all of the following: big glasses, huge boobs, a mushroom-shaped short haircut, and/or a really overdramatic personality…and yet they loved me anyway. Another thing that I look for in a best friend is someone who can out-talk me. I…talk. A lot. I There’s a line in a David Sedaris book when he says, “I tend to exhaust people” and I feel like I understand where he’s coming from. When someone is excited as I am to talk about any and all aspects of life for hours without a moment of silence…yeah. Best friend right there. Beyond that, what it really comes down to is this unspoken understanding that we can tell each other anything. We might say, “Sorry if this is TMI…” before we launch into a really personal/disgusting conversation, but we know there is really no such thing as TMI with each other; if something needs to be shared, it is shared. (That said, we also respect this and don’t just share personal/disgusting details just for the hell of it.)

I love all my best friends and they are a huge part of who I am, so I’d really like to introduce you to them. Here they are, in chronological order!

Heather and I have known each other since third grade and we had always been friends, but I didn’t start calling Heather my best friend until high school, when we went on an intense retreat together and really got to know each other on a new level. It was then I kinda realized that this girl I had known for so long was like…so much better of a person than most of the other people I knew. I love Heather because she is a little bit hippie, a little bit sorostitute, a lot feminist, extremely smart, and can laugh at herself. We both love writing (she also writes a blog) and talking about women/body image/the media. She’s writing and training in Chicago right now and looking to go to to California for grad school in the next couple years. I also love that we can go weeks, months, or even a year or two without staying in touch, but then we can head back to Grand Blanc and spend six hours in a Starbucks catching up, until they kick us out, so we go to her parents’ house to finish, and do this until about 2 AM. Now we tend to start early, just because we know it’ll be a long night if we don’t.

Beth. Like many good friends, Beth and I didn’t get along at first. (Why is that a thing!?) When I was in seventh grade and she was in sixth, here was an incident at play practice after school. Apparently, she had seen my pencil bag sitting out, open, with some pretty, fruity, lip gloss on top, and had examined it and then rubbed a little on her hand to smell it. This got back to me, and I confronted her, surrounded by my posse, Regina George-style, and was all, “Did you use my lip gloss as hand lotion?” in my bitchiest tone. She defended herself, but I was having none of it, and then I just decided to hate her. (Ridiculous, I know.) A year or so later, we were in another play together and I don’t know exactly how or why but suddenly we just realized that we were pretty much just meant to be best friends and totally bonded.

Beth and I were friends through high school, which means we were friends when we were both doing a lot of those awkward things you think are really cool but in hindsight actually aren’t. (Well, I was doing those things. Beth was actually cool in high school and we went to different schools.)

The most important thing I want to tell you about Beth is not that she’s so incredibly funny, a very talented actor, gorgeous, or political…it’s that she’s the first person who ever made me feel like I was really funny. When we first started hanging out, I remember thinking, Oh my gosh, this is the funniest girl I’ve ever hung out with! And then she just thought I was really funny too. She told me I was funny. And so I started thinking, Hey…maybe I’m funny. And that was a really big deal because up until that point, I thought only boys were funny.

Jacki. Jacki’s family moved back to Grand Blanc right before we started eighth grade, and I got to know her from cheerleading. She was quiet at first, and I am honestly not sure how we became friends, but we did. Freshman year of high school we became best friends, but then junior year, her family moved to Florida. Later we became Facebook friends and then got back in touch via messages; when we both ended up back in Grand Blanc living with our families a couple years ago, we really, really bonded. It’s amazing how that happens. I love Jacki because she just…gets it. We can have really shallow but necessary conversations about relationships, followed by deeper conversations about God, family, and femininity. And…Jacki is my homegirl. I don’t know exactly how to say this, but it’s really important to me to have white people in my life who get black culture and who I can have funny, frank conversations with about it. And she just got engaged last weekend and I’m so happy for her! Because we’re best friends, I would don a hideous bridesmaids dress for her, but because we’re best friends, she’ll make sure I don’t have to.

David. David and I met in the summer of 2005 when we both worked at Victoria’s Secret together. It was love at first sight on my part. I saw him and thought, I think we could be best friends. I’m not sure quite how it happened, but at some point in the middle of a shift, we just were laughing and then making plans to hang out, and then we were suddenly inseparable.

David and I are practically the same person; one of the reasons it was so clear to me that we were going to be best friends was because he reminded me so much of my dad, but all the good things about him. My mom noticed it too. (Seriously, if there was any possibility that his dad wasn’t his real dad, I would have had us get our DNA tested.) When we go out together, people aren’t sure if we’re dating or brother and sister. We have the exact same style of speaking and the same…face! We like to tell people that David is the pre-op version of me.

The summer we met is the one I refer to as “the summer of love.” David taught me to go after guys like he goes after guys. Have you ever watched guys hit on each other? It’s not subtle. That summer I really began to understand my sexuality and it was the beginning of me transitioning from theater kid who was just an idiot around guys to the person I am now.

Julia. At the end of my sophomore year at MSU, I was really good friends with a girl named Kelly in my sorority and we were planning to live together in the house the next year. When we realized we couldn’t get a good double, we decided to look for a third person to be our roommate and Kelly suggested Julia, who she also worked with at a cafe on campus. Apparently, Julia liked quoting Anchorman and eating guacamole as much as we did. I was sold. Over the next year, I became way better friends with Julia than I did with Kelly. Julia had a double major, was president of Sigma Kappa, president of MSU’s Panhellenic Council (the sorority governing board), and just kicked ass in every way possible. Last spring, she graduated from Georgetown with her Master’s in social policy; she’s still living in D.C. but eventually wants to move back to Michigan and fix Detroit. And I have no doubt that she will.

Julia is my no-bullshit friend. I mean, all my friends are no-BS type people, but Julia is one of the most frank people I know, and that was never more apparent than when dealing with Greek life, or, more likely, fraternities. I feel like she’s always embodied Rule #1: don’t be ridiculous. (Read her Owning It post to get an idea!) When some frat guy was just being ridiculous, I loved just watching Julia make her “Are you fucking kidding me?” face. She’s fearless when it comes to challenging the crap that needs to be challenged and she really helped me find that in myself. Unfortunately, for much of college, I was ridiculous, so I didn’t appreciate her as much as I should have, but those times when I got my act together and we teamed up? Oh my God, we were unstoppable. And I still feel that way today.

Lauren. Lauren and I met in 2008, when she was the director of Greek Week and I was the administrative director. Basically, I was her right-hand woman. Lauren was someone I had seen around a lot the previous Greek Week and someone I just knew really had her shit together. I knew this not only because of her behavior during Greek Week 2007, but also because she was in the business school and she always looked so fantastic and businessy in her crisp shirt-dresses and pointy-toe heels when we had to dress up for Greek events. (Clearly, I’m easy to impress. Dress like a businesswoman, study business, and I think you mean business. In Lauren’s case, though, I was right.) When we started working together senior year, we bonded so quickly. Before I knew it, we were best friends. That Greek Week was so ridiculous and it often felt like the world was against us, so I think that solidified our friendship, but All my friends have been very successful, but I’m really proud of Lauren. Last year, she quit her job to take on a new job that was a better fit for her, even though it meant a pretty big pay cut. This year, way before she was up for a promotion, she got an awesome promotion. She’s a boss, both literally and in the way Kelis uses it.

Lauren, like Julia, believes in making the world a better place; Julia does it through work, while Lauren does it through charity. Both of them inspire me to be less selfish and just be a better person. I love the conversations I have with Lauren; she is the friend started using the acronym DIK (“delusional, I know”) with.

Leah. In early 2009, I was living in New York, when I hurt my hip running and had to take a week or two off of work. It was pretty crappy; I was stuck in my tiny apartment in a lot of pain/drugged up on painkillers. That was when I discovered healthy living blogs. I read a bunch of them and with each one I thought, Uh, this is terriblehow do people not know how to blog!? and moved on to the next one. Eventually, I landed on Nutritionista. And I loved it. Like, so much that I went back to the beginning and read every single post. I was so inspired — to eat real food, to find out where my food came from, to try new things. It was exactly what I needed to hear at that time in my life, when I was surviving on all diet foods and fake sugars. Also, after reading all her posts and realizing that not all health blogs were juvenile and ridiculous, I decided to start my own, and later that day, I started Shedding It & Getting It.

Leah doesn’t talk about herself a lot in her blog, but as I was reading every post, I caught some references that made me think she was from Michigan. All the blogs I had seen at that point where from Florida or somewhere else warm and sunny, so I was really surprised. I e-mailed her to say I loved her blog and asking if she was from Michigan. She responded that she was, and I said I was thinking of moving home and if I did, we should meet up. That happened about six months later; we went out to dinner in Ann Arbor.

We still weren’t best friends right away; that didn’t happen until later in the year when we decided to do the Outside the Box challenge on our blogs and started talking more on G-chat. We’d talk about prizes or challenges, but then move on to boys or blogs or career, and eventually, we were just best friends.

Leah is a year older than I am, and I feel like she’s that much wiser. Somehow, she always manages to inspire my biggest decisions. Like I said, her blog is the entire reason I started Shedding It, and she also helped me re-brand Shedding It, telling me to just buy RachelWilkerson.com and run with it. Oh, and then she introduced me to Eric, which I appreciate.

What I love about Leah is that she brings be back to my more Bohemian upbringing and gets me more in touch with my crunchy, liberal self. That said, we’ve had some amazing trips to Sephora.

What’s funny is that my best friends aren’t best friends with each other. Heather, Beth, Jacki, and I were actually all on the middle school cheerleading squad when I was in eighth grade. (I think I have the picture scanned, actually, but I’m pretty sure I’d not be anyone’s best friend if I posted it. In a related story, thanks to everyone’s parents for paying for dental work around that time!) Lauren and Julia are friendly from Greek life. A lot of my best friends have met each other, but it’s not like they’d go and hang out without me.

Having a lot of best friends is a lot of work! I have seven people to update when something good happens and seven people to stay in touch with. But that’s what social media is for, right? (I see most of them in person just once every year or even once every two years!) I love them all so much and am so incredibly grateful for their love and friendship that I don’t even think about the work it takes to make it happen.