I was never the popular kid in school. I was never the prettiest or the thinnest. Sometimes, I was the smartest - which at times, can be worse. Somehow, all of my best friends (you know - the girl/girls you're always with, even when you're not) were always tall, thin and beautiful. So, my role, intentionally or not, evolved into: Sidekick.
In order to be a successful sidekick, one must be: Smart, funny and/or sarcastic, quick-witted, completely lacking a competitive gene - and constantly available.
To tell you the truth, I never minded being a sidekick. To me, being there when you're needed, supporting friends through even the craziest schemes and defending a person even when you secretly know she might be wrong are all marks of a good friend. As an adult, I'm even more aware of the importance of not only having good friends, but being a good friend as well.
But even the most patient, understanding and forgiving friend does not like to be taken advantage of. No one wants to feel unappreciated or, worse yet, used. No one wants to be anyone's Plan B - someone who waits at the ready, setting aside their own life and happiness, just in case the 'better' Plan A falls through.
So the most important quality a trusty sidekick needs? Confidence (believe it or not). She needs enough confidence to be able to recognize that line, the one that separates being relied upon and being taken advantage of. It's a fuzzy line; small; and it moves. A lot. She also needs enough confidence to be able to tell the other when the line has been crossed.
A good sidekick also knows that it's easy to take someone for granted. If she is a really good sidekick, she's always there, always ready with an answer. Her support is practically transparent, letting the other shine and take all the credit. Of course it's easy to take that person for granted - but that doesn't make it ok. It's important to feed a friendship, to check in and to improve - the same way you do with your spouse, a significant other, your parents, your boss, or any other important relationship. relationship.
If you're taking someone for granted - stop. Right now. Let them know you're sorry, and that you are going to try not to do it again. And then do just that.
If you're lucky, maybe your sidekick is cool enough to set her own feelings aside, and give you that chance.