Okay, this one, I wouldn't like to be used by anybody else. I wrote it for my English class on my best friend, Shawn. It's only online so that I can print it; I'll probably remove it at a later date. Much love, Hilary. 3


REFLECTIVE ESSAY

FRIENDSHIP

Not many teenagers have a best friend, preferring to be associated with a large number of people. I'm different; I have a best friend, and I've never even met him. His name is Shawn and one of my friends, Samantha, has been going out with him for over a year now, introducing him to our group as we clamoured to hear more about her exotic, older, American boyfriend. We drilled him with questions about his intentions with 'our Samantha', not knowing, not even suspecting that he'd become a much larger part of our lives than even each other. I'm glad he's my best friend and I honestly don't know what I would do without him as a friend, a confidante and my 'big brother'. He has literally changed my life in the past few months and I don't think any of us would have it any other way. I may never have met him, but he know me better than any of my school friends, and the same goes for him, so the distance doesn't matter to either of us.

Much like a big brother, a best friend is meant to be there for you, no matter what. Friends come and go, falling out with you at the merest joking insult; but a best friend? Best friends stand by you. There was a recent situation in our group. It's a long story, ending in heartache and silence. Sitting at the lunch table with everybody talking, but nobody talking to me was overwhelming. I deserved it. I honestly believed I deserved to be invisible, and I was all set to fall back into old habits. And I did. As I gazed, dumbfounded, at what I had just done, all I could think about was how I had let Shawn down. I was a mess, but this newfound guilt replaced the urge to cut myself, and leaving a swift message on his Facebook page, I was astounded at his return from training. He could have gone back, but I needed him. We begged him to go and follow through what he started, but we needed him. He dropped everything to stay because we needed him. He cut his training short for us. He's there for us, no matter what, our brother and our best friend, and if he weren't, I'd be stuck with eternal long sleeves.

They say a friend comes to your house and rings the doorbell. A best friend just walks in, like family. On the 28th of December, 2010, my stepdad passed away. I was told about it at 10:17 AM, when opening my Christmas presents, and I immediately set down my brand new Psychology book in distaste. Mum and I clung to each other for days, save for when I ventured out to meet my girlfriend at the time, and my current girlfriend, clinging to them instead. I 'met' Shawn a week or so later, still empty with the loss of such a big presence in my life. I wouldn't talk to my friends about him; they'd already met him; I'd already ranted about him; they already had opinions of him. Shawn didn't. I poured out all my remorse and regrets in relation to my stepdad to his virtual hugs, and he sat patiently while I struggled desperately not to forget his face, drawing on his own past experiences in losing family. It was in this short period of time that he became a representative of family in my eyes; though I've never met him face to face, I know that no matter what happens, he's a permanent fixture in my life.

Your average friend will listen to you for five minutes and then change the subject. A best friend is someone you don't mind listening to when they ramble on about something they're passionate about, even if it's for a long time or you've heard it before. Shawn and I have those conversations, like the time we flew to Japan in the MSN alternate reality; the time we escaped from a post-apocalyptic concentration camp; even the serious topics; like people treating him as if he were metal, when all he wanted to be was human. We talk about our losses and grievances, our childhoods and goals, our favourite things and the things we hate more than anything. We never run out of topics and we never get tired of the same conversation being accidentally repeated. Friends are high-maintenance. You have to talk to a friend every day, living up to all their expectations, or they get upset. Shawn lives in Missouri. We have long periods of silence when either one of us can't get to the computer. We have a massive 6-hour time difference. We have tornadoes that he experiences and rain so bad it blocks the internet here. But we know that even if it's a break in conversation of over a month, we'd still be able to continue from wherever we left off, sometimes even allowing it to pan out into hours and hours of sheer, utter nonsense. Our silent, strong, serious, yet silly understanding has shown me that you don't have to talk sense to your best friend, and I like it that way.

Friends keep secrets from you, plotting and giggling behind your back. A best friend keeps your secrets. Friends hear what you say, but best friends listen to what you don't say. They know when you're upset and vice versa. If I'm feeling down, I tend to use a lot of ellipses, short sentences and " :/ " faces. Everyone has something similar that they do when they're upset and most friends don't seem to recognise it. Best friends do. Even if you have a huge grin on your face, they can tell if it's fake. Shawn and I smile through text, the emotions radiating through the screen of whatever computer we're on. We say "Hug", "Are you okay?" and "I love you, (insert either Big Brother or Little Sister here)." All three of these are rendered null for various reasons, but the fact remains that these phrases show we care for each other. He promised he'd never hurt me, but if he did, I would forgive him. He would amend it, and I would forgive him. Besides, we know too many of each other's secrets to be allowed to be set free from this everlasting bond of friendship; he taught me to trust the people I love.

Shawn is not my friend. He's my best friend. A best friend stands by you when everyone else hates you, listening to your opinions and feeling free to agree or disagree. He's there for me when nobody else is, either by argument or lack of communication, knowing my flaws as I know his and listening to each other without judging. We forgive our stupid mistakes and don't underestimate one another. Through the experiences and realisations he allowed my adolescent mind to garner, I've learnt a lot about myself. I honestly have no idea what I'd do, what any of us would do without having met Shawn. Everyone should have a Shawn, but not our Shawn; he's our big brother and the most amazing person I've ever known. I don't care if people think having a best friend is childish, I wouldn't trade him for a million acquaintances. Even if sometimes people think there's something more between us, my best friend and honorary big brother taught me to talk to people, he taught me to trust and most importantly, he taught me to live. We have a complex relationship; one that is immensely difficult to define, but still easily described by the honest words of Winnie the Pooh;

"Promise you won't forget me, because if I thought you would, I'd never leave."

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