My Best Girls. <3

I have something to admit, everyone. And it may surprise you a little bit if you know me... 

Sometimes I can be shy. 

Now I know what you're thinking -- you're thinking "ummm, uh-uh. Not the Mandy that we know. She can get up on stage, pretend to be naked, speak in front of large groups, lead a camp... Not that chick." 

But yes. It's true. We all have both sides in us, and I feel like the older I get, the more my introverted self comes out a little bit. 

Those of you who had the pleasure of knowing chubby little Mandy know that this was pretty much never the case. I was loud, acted loudly, talked loudly, bossed people around loudly, played loudly - you name it, I did it - loudly. My entire childhood was pretty much spent having talent shows and putting on plays on the front lawn. My neighbors heard me learn various musical instruments. Maybe my parents forced me out of the house because of the racket - or maybe I just felt that the wide open lawn was a much more suitable stage for talent such as mine. But no matter what - I was bold and brassy. A tiny little Ethel Merman, if you will. 

But as I have aged, and as I've come into my own and chubby little Mandy has shrunk to pocket-size, I find that my shy side comes out. When I am with my very best friends, I am totally myself - loud, brash, goofy, borderline ridiculous. (We bring that out in each other!) I treasure those times that I can let loose and it all comes pouring out. 

I used to be the type of person, all growing up, and in college, that had a big group of great friends. I had a family of friends that I was surrounded by - never wanted for company, never worried about being alone. I loved it that way. I was cozy, and happy, and content! But as I've grown, I've honed myself down to a special, small, tight-knit group of people in my life that are my go-to's for everything. :) They will always be around - I'm not giving them up! And unless you are those people, I have a hard time letting chubby Mandy's freak flag fly sometimes and find myself observing more. I used to come into a party or group not knowing anyone and then end up with several new friends. Now I am content to come in and be a part of the group for what it is - and leave knowing that they were great people, but I have the best already! 

This blog is going different places than when I started it, but that's kind of where my head is. And I'm a fairly random person, so it seems pretty fitting, doesn't it? :P 

I am realizing this introverted side of me with planning the wedding (4 months from today!!). I am finding that when people who aren't my tight cluster ask me questions, or ask to see my ring, or ask about my feelings or planning, I get really tongue-tied and flustered. It's not that I don't want to talk about any of it - I just get so weirded out about the attention. Who knew something like "how is wedding planning going?" would get me so tripped up, and leave the person asking it looking at me like they just asked me to explain my feelings on universal health care! 

Put me in a room with my best friends, and I can talk about it until they all want to puke from hearing it (which I'm sure they are close to! :P)... Sit me at my desk and have random people ask me about it and I get all weird. Hmm...

Like I said, this is going weird places. But I return to my previous thoughts regarding my tight-knit group of friends.. After 31 years, I feel like my group of best friends has been honed into an amazing team. When it came time to decide who I wanted standing up next to me on my wedding day (did I mention it's 4 months from today? Eek!), it was an easy choice. I feel like everyone needs a friend like one of the ones that I hold dear (but you can't have mine!)... I'm sure you have some of these types of friends as well, but just in case, I want to give some credit where credit is definitely due. I love all of these amazing women for different reasons, and that's why having them by my side on September 28 is going to make the day more amazing than they realize!

1.) Jewel (Maid of Honor) - Jewel is the friend that you've had the longest. The one that you have the stupidest but funniest inside jokes with. The one whose family you know really well, and whose family knows you really well. The one who has secrets about you that other people don't and who (probably) wouldn't use them against you in a court of law. Or on Facebook. This is the friend who will let you just talk and talk and talk and just listen and listen and listen. The one who appreciates your love of Cheezits, cheesy Mexican food, and the Babysitter's Club. The friend who has been there through various trips, conferences, school festivals, classes together, etc. She will help you organize your life when it seems like total chaos (literally and figuratively!) She has seen you at your best and worst. This one isn't going anywhere!

2.) Kristin (Matron of Honor) - This is the friend who can get you to be the goofiest you have ever been! The friend who shows you the good when you're feeling down. This is the friend that will always get a coffee with you when you go places, will have you try things on that you never thought would look good on you (and they always do!), and the one that will encourage you to go outside of your comfort zone. This friend is the type that hasn't been your friend the longest, but will make you feel like you grew up next door to her and ran through the sprinkler together. This is also the friend that will help you expand your limits - whether that is new food, new music, new ways of looking at things, whatever. This friend shines with her passions and inspires you to be as passionate as she is about anything! This one is definitely sticking around. :)

3.) Stacy (Bridesmaid) - This is the surprise bestie. The one that was right under your nose the whole time (like say, maybe, your cousin???) and then you forged an amazing friendship! The one who will give you great advice, even if you feel like a whining brat sometimes... The one who will put things into perspective, who will have patience with you, and who will always offer a good glass of wine. This is the one that will dissect family dynamics with you until the wee hours of the night, and make yearly dates to wrap presents together. This one isn't ever getting out of this friendship -- especially because we are related! (Note - your friend like this may not be related to you. That is totally okay. :P)

4.) Stephanie (Bridesmaid) - This is the long distance friend. But also the one who when you see each other, or talk to each other, it's like you are right down the road from each other. :) This is the one who will understand your weird idiosyncrasies, and also the one who will look back with you on your past together and collectively say "what the heck were we thinking???". This is the one who will be wise beyond her years, and will always have a great idea for saving time. This is the one who you tease about their funny little quirks but who isn't afraid to tease you back about yours. She's a permanent fixture in your life whether she likes it or not! :)

5.) Jennifer (Bridesmaid) - This is your friend who you used to work with, but who has morphed into something so much more. This the friend that will consistently keep it real, and encourage and remind you to do the same. The one who will tease you about things that only she can tease you about, the one that will take you under her wing, the one that will build you up when you are feeling down. This is the friend who will entertain you with stories of her life, and help you see just how interesting and amusing your life can be, even when it feels so mundane. This friend may or may not travel across the country to get away from you - but you will hook line and sinker her back in, no matter how hard she tries. :)

I so wish that all of you had women like this in your life that you called best friends. I so wish that you could feel how I feel, when I picture this day, 4 months in the future, and picture them standing there by my side. The idea of looking at my wedding pictures and seeing them full of these beautiful friends of mine makes my heart melt a little bit. :) If you don't have friends like these, start looking - they are out there, I promise. But again, you can't have mine. Don't even try it. They're spoken for. Back OFF. :P 

And so, chubby little Mandy, singing and putting on plays in the front lawn -- hold out. Friends may come and go in your life right now, and you may have a new "best friend" every 10 seconds, but just you wait. Someday you are going to be luckiest girl in the whole world, and you will get to call Jewel, Kristin, Stacy, Stephanie, and Jennifer your best girls. And you will mean it with every single ounce of your heart and soul. <3