Cannonball Read V: MWF Seeking BFF: My Year Long Search for a New Best Friend by Rachel Bertsche
So MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend was kind of an awesome read. There is so much advice out there about all the crap you deal with in your twenties - starting a career, finding a life partner, getting married, having kids, etc. There is almost no advice about what, at least for me, is arguably the hardest - making friends. In high school and college, you're forced to spend time with (or live with) people, and all that forced togetherness usually breeds friendships. As an adult, outside of work, there's no forced togetherness. I'm on my own, and at a bar or happy hour, I'm much more likely to be approached by a guy than a girl looking for a friend.
The hardest part about graduating college for me was the crushing loneliness I felt when my friends scattered across the country. Bertsche felt the same thing when she moved to Chicago with her husband. She had close girlfriends from high school and college, but they didn't live in her city. She needed friends she could physically hang out with on the weekends, not friends who were a gHangout or phone call away.
This book doesn't provide you with a novel blueprint for making friends. Bertsche basically repeats the same advice that I've heard over and over. That advice is fairly simple:
- Ask your friends who don't live in your city to set you up on friend dates with their friends who do.
- Say yes to everything when people invite you, even if you don't want to go. You never know who you'll meet.
- When you meet someone you think is fun, or friendly, ask for their number and offer to hang out sometime. They will NOT be weirded out, they will most likely be happy that they've made a new friend.
- Follow up with people if you want to keep hanging out with them. Many people will not follow up with you, even if they want to hang out. Following up 1-2 times is to be expected, you won't come off as creepy.
- Join an activity, or club, or sport, or something that you like, and go alone. It forces you to talk to new people.
But this book does something that is novel. What Bertsche does is write about all the awkwardness and weirdness that comes from executing that advice. She writes about how terrified she was to strike up a conversation with someone at a party where she knew no one. She writes about how she goes on dud friend dates, where they have nothing in common and thus have long periods of awkward silence. She writes about how you feel like a failure, and kind of lame, when you ask people to set you up on friend dates - because it's like an admission no one wants to be your friend. She writes about the insecurity that many women feel - "why would she want to be my friend, she probably already has friends."
Basically, it's like she's done the hard part. She writes about the insecurity you feel when trying to make new friendships, and then explains why it's totally irrational. It made me feel like I could actually do this. I could get a girl's number, or go to a class where I know no one, and turn someone into a friend. And that confidence boost is what most people need. It's what I needed.
*Caveat: I've read a bunch of criticisms of this book that I think are unfair. Many people disliked this book because Bertsche had friends prior to writing it, they just didn't live in her city. If you read this book, in my opinion, it's apparent that Bertsche is what I'd call an outgoing introvert. She's friendly when she's meeting people, but she'd prefer to be at home watching television or reading. Which makes it easy for most personality types to relate to her. And I think her advice works for anyone, regardless of whether they have 50 friends living in their city but like to meet new people, no friends living in their city, or no friends at all.
(Note: Any revenue generated from purchases made through the amazon.com affiliate links in this review will be donated in entirety to the American Cancer Society.)