Those that follow me know the quest I am on. Those that don’t, well, here let me fill you in. I am on a journey. I am in search of MY life. I think I’m pulling into the station. It’s taken me a while to get here.
A couple of years ago I began to learn what I want, accept what I love… learn to love those things more and develop what I have. I did this by being honest with my needs and getting practical in my approach. Over time, my ‘self’ began to take shape. The dots began to join. Then I realised my time in the wilderness was done, (I had to go it alone for a while to stop myself being what I thought other people wanted me to be, just so I could fit in) and I craved others to share stuff with.
Blah, blah, lots happened. U turns, back flips, dead ends (lots of those), tears and frustrations. I then discovered MeetUp groups and I began to flourish but it still didn’t feel like enough (I am a demanding little thing). Then. THEN a few weeks ago, a blog I was following by Nina Badzin, wrote about a book she had read titled, MWF seeks BFF (married, white female seeks best forever friend). The author had moved State, and found herself without close friends to hang out with. But this wasn’t high school anymore and friends were hard to find. In desperation she decided to put all her efforts into the task and spend a year, and 52 ‘friend dates’ to find her BFF’s. I was intrigued (and hopeful), I began to follow Rachel (online…not as in stalking her) and reading her posts, catching an insight into the ‘friendship’ thing via the responses and comments from her other blog followers. I rapped my fist hard to my furrowed brow.. ‘knuckle head’. Why hadn’t I found this before? I had actually unearthed a pool of people who openly want to form strong friendships and create healthy, nurturing, fun relationships with each other. Making BFF’s. I began to feel like it was ok to be bold. To say ‘hey, want to grab a coffee’ to people who caught my interest. Before I’d have been afraid to do so, oh don’t get me wrong, I’ve made talking to strangers a work of art, but to speak to people I would view as ‘cool’ or who may be doing something I’d love to do…. I would shy away because, unbeknown to them, I would have invested a hope and a need into my interaction with them. Feelings of ‘neediness’ would choke me and I’d close down in fear that they’d see this ‘gloop’ inside of me and find it uncomfortable (well, I found it uncomfortable so I thought bold, neon flashing signs would burst out from my forehead that would flash ‘looser’ and I’d be done for). But..no more. Rachel’s book gave me the courage to accept what I need, indeed have to have (studies prove healthy, important friendships increase physical and mental wellbeing).
I had tried in the past, back home in the UK. In short, I was looking for my own BFF’s but I was failing. A – perhaps because I didn’t want them to know I found them interesting or cool, and B) because I didn’t like feeling vulnerable. Hated feeling awkward and, finally C) I didn’t want them to reject me.
So, whilst in San Fransisco, I joined a writing group. Met a couple of people there I liked on sight. I courageously (for me..Hey, I’ve been swimming in the British reserve for years….cut me some slack) said, far more nonchalantly than I felt, ‘do you want to grab a coffee?’ two agreed. A third hung around, non-committal, ready to shoot away at any given moment, straddling his sleek road bike, but declined coffee. I had a great time chatting with them. It felt as easy as slipping through water when greased with vaseline (no I’ve not done that but the image came to mind and I’ve used ‘hot knife through butter before’, I like to give variety). We shared a common bond (writing). It went swimmingly.
I then became even bolder and wrote and told them I found them good company and would they like a repeat performance. One replied and agreed. The other, I’ve not heard from. This is ok. Focus on your succcesses..right?!
Then, another wonderous thing happened and I discovered the author, Rachel Bertsche was coming to San Francisco, to an independent bookstore in the City, to read from her book and hold a Q&A. Strike! Excited wasn’t the word. How serendipitous is that?!
Rachel was fun, engaging, and very real. Approachable, naked in her honesty. I so admired her. She didn’t seem needy at all. Just accepting of her needs. She is married but had the balls to recognize that a husband is not enough. No one thing is EVER enough. That I had already summarized in my own life.
Rachel spoke of her exhaustion at maintaining the courage to approach potential BFF’s and to then take them on ‘friend dates’. She spoke of awkward meetings. Potentials that failed to follow-up. See, I’d gotten to this stage but I didn’t know when to give up. To me, making the first move was ok (ish) at times (depending on how good I felt about myself at the time), but to then follow-up not once but twice. Urgh, this seemed insanity. But she helped me to see that friendships take effort, like businesses, to get off the ground. If you don’t gel at first meet, then you don’t gel, but if you get on really well then pursue it. Once, twice, three times if you have to..then give up. Great, I now had a guideline. This is good. I can live with that.
At the reading, I also discovered www.girlfriendcircles.com a website, authored by Shasta Nelson. It is a ‘online community that matches new friends offline by connecting circles of women in local areas’. Wow! There are actually women who deeply care about connecting with others in such a nurturing way and are courageous enough to be transparent about it! (I’ve still so much to learn!) I then discovered www.girlfriendcelebrations.com it lists other dedicated websites too. Horah! They all talk about ‘dating’ your friends. They list ideas for fun things to do. Much like not taking your partner or spouse for granted and to keep ‘dating’, they encourage being proactive in ALL your relationships. Being impassive in anything just turns things stale and bad. It makes total sense to me. It is a openess I’ve always wanted to see and NOW I’ve found it. It is like having permission to care as much as I do.
THIS is partly why I dream of living in America, or at least spending a large portion of my year here. I thrive in the expressivity of its culture (I am generalizing, you may have seen different but this has been my experience). I have friends in the UK but I have had this feeling of holding back, and I don’t think it has always been from me. In England, I do see a culture that fears self-expression and openness (in general). What is also becoming so crystal clear to me, is the ingredient to co-creating ‘successful’ and nurturing/fun relationships is to be choosy. Choose people who have similar values, morals, interests to you. This makes them ‘safe’ to share yourself with. You need to feel like your friendliness will be accepted warmly and cherished. The geography is crucial too. Get them within walking distance to you, or at least easy ‘hop in the car’ or (with the will of public transport) a bus ride away. Frequency builds connections, happy memories and an ease that helps the fun to flow. Being devoted to your friendships is important.
Oh, I am so excited now. I think (pray/hope) I can (finally) learn this thing. I am willing my self confidence to go from ‘shuffling’ to ‘upright and sustained’. I know great change begins with us (though I wish the world would just play nice so I didn’t have to! I know, I know in all seriousness, I am aware I have to alter my beliefs to be able to SEE the good that I want).
I bought Rachel’s book www.mwfseekingbff.com I signed up to the friendship blogs. God, all I needed was the guidance (picture a bowling alley with those kiddies inflated tubes that guarantee a hit on the skittles). I wish schools would teach these tools to their pupils (maybe some do). If not it should be a compulsory, and span the whole course of the school years. Then those children would foster loving relationships. If they then become parents they can pass on the ‘freindship manual’ to their kids and the world would be an easier, more supportive place to be. Is this not LIFE..Rule No.1?
What is your experience of ‘making and maintaining’ friendships? Are there organisations like the ones I mentioned outside of the US? I would LOVE to hear from you. Actually..WE (meaning anyone who follows my blog) would love to know and connect with you too.
Happy friending x