Within every squad there is a background friend. Someone who doesn’t seem to fit into the mold. Could this friend be the best one of them all?
If you have a large group of friends, commonly referred to as a squad, there are likely to be several personalities within it. The whole squad idea became the norm due to Taylor Swift and her merry band of besties, all with their model good looks and talent. Within that group you probably have what we call the background friend.
Perhaps your squad aren’t all world famous, jet-setting off to far-flung destinations on modeling assignments, but none of that matters. What matters—the people who make up your squad.
There are many reasons why this particular person in the back might actually be the best friend you have within your group. They don’t have a particular allegiance to anyone. They’re happy with themselves and don’t pay much attention to gossip.
Sounds perfect! [Read: 36 traits a shallow person just can’t hide]
What is a background friend?
In every chick-flick, you see the background friend somewhere. Usually a girl, sometimes a boy, who doesn’t really fit in. They’re within the group and accepted as such, but only just. They’re always on the fringes, never really in the middle of the group and certainly never the most popular.
The background friend might end up with the jobs that nobody else wants, e.g. going to the local shops or painting someone’s nails because they can’t be bothered to do it themselves.
Because of that, the background friend sits and observes. They develop their own opinions and views of what is going on. They’re actually morally correct. Why? Because they’re not bothered about who they please or who they don’t please. They’re more concerned about simply being a good person. Of course, you can also find a background friend who becomes so desperate to fit in that they attempt to do whatever they can to make someone smile.
Is the background friend always a good influence? Not always, but mostly. In some cases this particular person can become so bitter about being on the fringes that they start to show it in their demeanor.
This isn’t the type of background friend I want to talk about. I’m talking about the one who is always there, always present, always a shoulder to cry on, but the one who never really gets the credit.
That is the best friend you should rely on. In turn, allow them to rely on you. [Read: How to build good and lasting friendships]
Why you should embrace your background friend
I’ve been the background friend in my group. I was never the most popular, certainly never the one that everyone wanted to talk to, and I was often the one that people asked to do things, simply because I was eager enough to please.
Because of my experiences as the high school background friend, I stick up for this member of the squad. I think the friend who sits on the fringes of your group could actually be the best friend you have.
In every group you have a range of characters, but the central ringleaders are often pretty flaky. By that I mean that they choose favorites and they like to be adored. Everyone else in the squad wants to please the ring leader, so they do whatever they can for that person. As a result, it turns into a competition, with the whole group trying to be the one in favor that particular week. [Read: 15 signs you have shitty friends and need to get new ones]
When I look back on those times in my life now, I shudder. Why did I bother about trying to impress someone who was really no better than me?
That is how you should look towards your background friend.
They are sitting on the fringes, not really accepted as an integral part of the group, but why shouldn’t they be? They’re just the same as everyone else! The fact that this person has probably been through quite a lot as part of the squad but not really being in it, means that they’re usually quite an empathetic and friendly person.
If you need someone in an emergency, your background friend will be there. If you want a shoulder to cry on, they’ll provide the tissues. They will give you advice, and they will usually be quite worldly, because they’ve spent so long on the fringes, looking in.
This friend deserves to be a central part of the squad, but the likelihood is that after so long being on the outside, they’re not really bothered about it anymore! How great it is to not care what someone else thinks, to not try and impress the ring leader. [Read: The BFF code all good friends must follow]
The politics of friendship gone mad
When you read all of this, you probably shake your head and wonder if we’re all back in high school. In some cases it really does feel like that!
Squads of friends can often be extremely cutthroat, with almost a hierarchical ranking system in place. Everyone competes to be at the top. The one impressing the ring leader. When you take a step back, why do we bother? Why not be the background friend instead? This person has far less pressure on their shoulders and sees everything for what it really is.
Of course, it could be that you simply have a friend who sits on the outskirt of your life. This person is there, but not really there. You don’t have as much in common with them, but they’ve always been there for you. Invite them into your life a little more. This person has stuck around through thick and thin, probably without much of a ‘thank you’ or much fanfare.
We all deserve friendship in our life. We all want to receive it because it’s given freely, not because of some strange ‘90s throwback chick-flick.
Perhaps we all became a little obsessed with Tay-Tay’s girl squad a couple of years ago, and it’s caught on for the rest of us. The problem with emulating a squad like that is in-fighting and bitchiness. Come on, you’re not telling me that in a group of supermodels, actresses, and singers there aren’t constant cat fights and gossip sessions!
Who would want to be a part of that? Okay, it looks glamorous, but seriously? I think in that squad I’d be the background friend who quickly backed away. [Read: Signs of a bad friend you should always watch for]
Friends are friends at the end of the day
We will always have specific friends dear to us, and for me it’s someone who I have known since I was a baby. When I look at my entire circle, there are people who have stuck around even though I don’t really pay them that much attention.
I don’t really bother to message them that often, but they’re still there, lingering around. They don’t message me much either, but that doesn’t seem to make a difference to their presence in my life.
Maybe I should take my own advice and invite them closer. After all, friends are friends at the end of the day.
A background friend is someone who doesn’t really fit the mold, but who wants to fit in anyway? Create your own mold and form closer friendships with those who have stuck by you.