Here’s where my review ends and the introspection begins. If you missed the first part of MWF Seeking BFF book review, check it out here.
I’m not writing this to deter anyone from being my friend; I’m simply sharing what I took away from the book. Some of it mixes with things that I’ve felt for a long time and some of it is new.
I’m not an outgoing person. I’m really not. I think my hubby and my BFF, Mardi would describe me as a homebody. Reading this book was both eye opening (as in Oooh I DO THAT!) to reaffirming (as in Yes. That’s what I want.) I’m also really, really insecure but you might not know that from meeting me because I’m too busy being loud and a little obnoxious trying to make you laugh so you don’t notice. I talk a lot because I don’t like silence (except at bedtime or when I’m trying to work).
It has been really hard to have my BFF live so far away (and yes, I really do only have one BFF). There are times when I feel extremely isolated and solitary and that puts me into this black hole kind of depression where I’m convinced that everything but showering is too hard to do. I recently let myself slip into one of those holes and when I spoke out about it online (without of course saying “Hey I’m super depressed! Who wants to cheer me up?!”) I got a little scolded for sharing how I felt. Which of course made me feel worse and it was right then that I wanted to throw my computer and drop kick everyone and everything. It’s an ugly place to be for sure.
That’s when I realized that social sites like Facebook are crap as far as making new friends go (I really already knew this and had begun to feel it more and more).
Rachel points out in her book how research tells us “that online networks neither expand the number of people to whom we feel close nor do they deepen our already-tight friendships.”
Absolute Truth. There are days where, if not for the job I do, I could without question delete my online profiles and go on my merry way. I’ve not met three fourths of the people I “know” online and I probably never will. There are some who are part of my connections simply because of industry; not because I find them interesting. In short, I feel no real connection to so many of you. (Sorry ya’ll. Let the un-friending start now.)
As friending goes it’s hard to feel a real connection to those you’ve never had coffee with, shared an embarrassing moment with or a real life struggle. It’s doubly hard if you’re only looking at them through the screen because we tend to show people mostly only what we want them to see. You don’t see the real insides to things like broken marriages, financial struggles, unruly kids, and thankless jobs. So how can you forge real connections that stand up to what most women want out of a friend? I’m struggling with that realization now because while I love what being online has brought to me, outside of a career that I love, there’s no tangible take home value on the other parts of it and that’s hard to settle with when you’ve spent over 12 years creating and networking online.
Many times I have thought that I’d found those local connections that I was looking for but those seemed to be short lived. Perhaps it’s that friendships take time to build and I’m impatient, or I find things that I can’t handle or put me off about the other person, or there’s the rare occasion that I’m the friend someone needs only when they need something and that’s the most painful of all the friendships.
Other times, I’ve tried to re-kindle past friendships with the help of social media (like Facebook) but it hasn’t brought me the success that I would’ve hoped. I even un-friended an old friend because it started to feel like I didn’t know them as well as I had thought or want to connect with them anymore. I’ve considered doing the same to countless others as well.
Rachel tells us in her book that friendships often come and go and that few are permanent (I guess this is science talking again) and it’s because people grow and change, that friendships don’t often weather those periods of change (I beg to differ a little with science but whatever). It’s because of that reasoning that I often wonder if friendships not forged in our high school or college years are subject to those break-ups because we crave to have the kind of people who know you better than you know yourself. While I admit to going through big changes though the years; at my core, I still am who I was 10, 15, or even 20 years ago. I don’t like the idea of unloading years of emotional baggage and cliff notes of my past to the friend to-be just so they can get to BFFdom.
Should how well they know you matter before you get to the BFF stage?
That said, one person from those eras of my life has been able to stand the test of time, so to speak so that’s why I’m not totally on board with the what the data says about friendships being permanent. Though I do agree that people come in and out of our lives for various reasons; some of them will stay and some will go. I’m finding more will-gos than will-stays. Even some of those “close” friends don’t seem as close as they were back in the golden days. Maybe it’s because the data is correct (damn you data!) after all. I know that I’ve recently encountered this with at least one person.
Rachel also explains that there are stages to reaching that BFF point and many people never get past the first couple of stages. In order for that deep friendship to happen there has to be intimacy and reciprocity. It’s the intimacy thing that gets me – it seems very involved (see above). I wish there was a book of my life that I could just hand someone to read at their leisure. It would seem so much less painful than sharing sometimes.
Rachel’s book has brought a lot of A-HA moments to me as well as the realization that I not only want but I need more friends. I don’t want them to be situational friendships (as in the kind of friendships you forge because you’re in the same office or place day after day), although there is data to support that those friends are beneficial as well, but true local friends who would be fun to call up and hang out with – the kind to get me out of my doldrums, bake cookies with at Christmas, grocery shop, or vent to when I’ve had it UPTOHERE with kids, work, family.
The internet has brought me some wonderful people that I HAVE MET and sincerely wished they lived in my backyard (or a commune on a small continent) because I feel we could truly be better friends than the world wide web allows.
I want friendships that you don’t have to work at exhaustively to keep or who aren’t going to give me a million “you shoulds” or point out my flaws (from parenting to general personality) because I don’t want fixing or to work my ass off or tip toe around someone. I just want someone to listen, to build me up when I’m down and be on my side when the rest of the world is pissing me off; something that I know many women want out of a friendship. The husbands and partners fix: the friends listen and sympathize (and often bring you chocolate when needed).
I’ve thought about going on my own friend quest in 2014 since it’s my first step towards empty nesting, what with Bug graduating high school and all. And I likely would if it didn’t feel forced or something that would frustrate me easily as well as drain my wallet quickly (Rachel noted in one friend date that her quest could get quite expensive what with all the meet-ups for brunch, drinks, dinner, lunch etc. I’m a working mom with kids. I can’t afford that kind of quest).
I’m still crawling out of myself from that little outburst online a couple of weeks ago. At first I really did want to dump all online networks because I didn’t feel like I was fit for public consumption. Grinch meet Nikki, Nikki… well, you already know the Grinch. And I’m not entirely sure that I am fit for the public now but it is what it is I guess (I hate that saying but it fits).
So until I hit the lottery or forced to live on a stranded island with women of my age group and interests in a made for Lifetime bad reality TV like fashion, I’ll just go on my merry way with one exception: I’m going to seek out new situations that will put me in the path of others and if nothing else, perhaps I will learn something that I’ve always wanted to learn.
Now that I’ve pretty much bored you all to tears and explained why I’m such a craptacular friend, what are your thoughts? Do you find it difficult to make friends or find ones that could be “lifers” now that you’re older?
**disclosure – There are many of you that I haven’t “met” yet outside of my computer screen and I know we’ve shared so much online, so I’d like to think you’d join the small continent commune that I hope to build one day with those future lottery winnings because I truly feel that with some wine, time and cabana boys, we could easily get to BFF status.
Image via lusi
Glad you enjoyed the book! Friendships can be a complicated thing but once you find the BFF it is a awesome thing. I tend to have season friends.