“Best Friend,” “Bestie,” “BFF”… I have used all three terms to describe my best friends. When I step back and evaluate my best friendships throughout the years, I can pinpoint many things I learned from them and how having them in my life — either for a season or more — allowed me to learn and grow in areas that I could not have otherwise. So, let me introduce you to all my best friends throughout my life and the biggest thing I’ve learned from them (I’m only using their initials to identify them):
Pre-School to Early Elementary Years
S.L. and I both lived in an upper middle class neighborhood in South Korea, except she and her family rented the guestroom with an attached kitchenette from my neighbor across the street. I never met her dad because I was told he worked overseas in Saudi Arabia, so as long as I can remember, it’s always been just her, her younger brother, and her mom who worked full-time. S.L. and her brother liked to come over to my house because we had more space to play, and because my mom always made yummy snacks for all of us. I remember being a total brat and bossing her around; Even though she would occasionally retaliate verbally, she usually just went along with whatever my bossiness demanded. Looking back, I wish I was much nicer to her and her brother; but sadly, I knew I came from money and they didn’t, so there was a part of me that felt superior to them; but the one area I secretly admired her in was her ability to use a stove and cook meals at age 7. I remember boiling water and making ramen on my own for the very first time at 9 years-old (just before moving to the U.S.), and I felt so proud that I was “cooking.” When I moved to the U.S., we lost touch, but I never forgot about her. She was always responsible and had a spirit of maturity about her, and I secretly admired her emotional stability at such a young age. What I learned from S.L. is that you’re never too young to start preparing meals even if it’s just assisting by taking ingredients out for whoever is cooking.
Late Elementary to 9th Grade Years
I didn’t have many friends after moving to the U.S. until the end of my 4th grade year when C.H. and her family moved in to the same apartment complex where I was living. C.H. was my age, and her sister M.H. was a year younger. We became best friends pretty quickly, and I became a permanent fixture at their place. Even after we both moved farther away from each other (into our own houses), I spent almost every weekend at their house, spending the night as much as I can. C.H was more than just a friend to me; she (and M.H.) became like sisters I never had. We took ballet classes at the same studio (although she and her sisters advanced quicker because they were just better ballerinas than I was), became frequent patrons at Northridge Fashion Center, and watched MTV when it really was Music Television with music videos on all day. As much as I loved C.H. like a sister, I always had an inferior complex around her (are you seeing a pattern forming here?) because she was naturally thin, got great grades, everybody liked her (including boys that I liked), and she was so stylish. I felt like the fat, dumb and ugly best friend because I often compared myself to her. This was all on me because she treated me with kindness and never saw me as any of the negative things I saw myself as. Our best friendship naturally drifted in such a beautiful, organic way. There was no dramatic bestie-breakup; I started hanging out with a different crowd in high school, but we continued to love each other like sisters for many years to come. In fact, we both attended each other’s weddings and we continue to keep in touch through social media and our annual Christmas photo cards. One of many things I learned from my friendship with C.H. is her ability to see past physical attributes and see the beauty within people.
10th Grade to College Freshman Years
C.V. and I had been friends since 7th grade, but we became best friends in 10th grade through our love of dance. We would choreograph dances together for fun and for the dance team that we eventually becoming co-captains of. I wanted her to do every dance performance with me: She joined the professional Polynesian dance group that I had been a part of since 8th grade, and we eventually started auditioning for dance gigs together in Hollywood. She pursued modeling while I pursued stage acting, but we always had dance in common. After she moved to Indiana shortly after college, our lives took us in two different directions; but we still keep up with each others’ lives through social media. In my best friendship with C.V., I learned how to be grounded even in the midst of pursuing a dream.
Well, this sums up my younger years.
Next week, I will introduce you to my best friends from college and the rest of my 20’s. In the mean time, consider reaching out to your childhood best friends this week to say hi and catch up! 💜