What I’ve Learned From Friending So Far…

Happy New Year’s Eve everyone! I’m thrilled because I will be ringing in 2011 at a dear friend’s wedding. She was my roommate for almost three years in New York City, and we worked together, so you might say being spoiled with her friendship is part of the reason I got such a shock to the system when I moved to Chicago. I even spoke at her rehearsal dinner last night. Telling an old pal how special she is seemed a really fitting way for me to close out 2010.

This has been a momentous year for me. Friend searching can teach you as much about yourself as it does other about other people.

So first, what I’ve learned about myself:

1. I am a social being. In my earlier Chicago days I would have described myself as a homebody, but that might have been due to the fact that I didn’t have that many locals to hang out with. These days I’ve realized I get a lot of energy and happiness from being out with new friends. I’m not trying to go out drinking till 1 am, but a girls’ dinner will put me in a great mood.

2. I enjoy alone time. It seems like a contradiction of the aforementioned point #1, but now that I am not alone all the time, I appreciate the time that I am. It used to feel lonely, now it feels relaxing.

3. I’m braver than I thought. Once upon a time I would have said “Oh I could never do that!” to a hearty percentage of the things I’ve tackled this year. Write a note to a waitress after a meal? Ask an established author to have lunch with me? At her reading no less? But now I’ve learned that the worst that can happen is I’ll be embarrassed for a minute. Then I move on. There are worse things.

What I’ve learned about other people:

1. Everyone wants friends. I was so so so so so worried that the people I approached this year would find me annoying or burdensome or strange. But across the board people have been thrilled when I asked them on a friend-date. People are busy and aren’t always willing to do the work it takes to make friends, but if you carry the load—at least in the beginning—others will happily come along.

2. People don’t analyze your every move the way you think they do. I constantly hear from readers that they are scared to approach someone because they don’t want to seem weird. I felt that way at the beginning. Now I know, no one is thinking about me enough to think I’m weird. If I approach someone, they usually just respond. They don’t analyze my crazy. At least not yet.

3. You never know what someone else is thinking. When I asked out the girl who works at the boutique on my corner, she said that she can never be the asker because it’s unprofessional for the salesgirl to invite a customer out for coffee. Until that moment it had never occurred to me that maybe she wanted to be friends with me but something was holding her back. The point is, you’ll never know what someone else is thinking. So just ask. It’s the only way to find out.

Three things I’ve learned about making friends:

1. Friends don’t come knocking at your door. If making new friends is important to you, you absolutely must be willing to do the work. You have to reach out and follow up and plan outings. You have to call back and write back and facebook message back. You have to show up.

2. Consistency is key. I see the people in my improv class once a week. We’ve become fast friends. Some of my new friends are in my book club which guarantees I’ll see them at least once a month. Some new friends I liked so much that I created consistency with them—I formed a dinner club. Now I see them once a month too. Seeing someone twice and never again is not friendship.

3. Friendships take time. I thought I would meet someone and we would have this friend-love at first sight business, but—surprise!—it hasn’t happened like that. Sure there have been some I have clicked with more than others, but even those relationships need time to become true friendships. Patience has never been my strong suit.

I hope these notes will help some of you make friends in the new year! What did you learn in 2010?

12 Comments

Filed under The Search

12 responses to “What I’ve Learned From Friending So Far…

  1. This Blog Was Very interesting ‘N Was Very Enlighting. I Can appreciate your Experience With Making Friends, ‘N How To keep Them. you are a great inspiration Other Womens Can learn From your Examples ‘N That includes Me as Well. One Day I Will Step Back outta Myself To Try it again, I just stopped Trying Because I Didn’t Want To Deal with Other ppls Mess, it Was too Much. My Quietness ‘N Me Being Too Sensitive Made Me Retreat So I just “QUIT”. I Have Regreted That Decision, Hopefully 2011 Will Be Different Because I am Moving to a New State. So I Can Only Be Encouraged To Make Friends. THANK-YOU I’ll Keep Reading.

  2. Karen A.

    Hi Rachel, So many of your points ring true. Your blog has been a delight to follow this year, thank you for inviting us all to join you on the journey. I especially agree that consistency is so important. Having a reason (or excuse) for a group to gather on a regular basis really strengthens the bonds.

    Please know as you close this year that your efforts have indeed made this world a friendlier place, and how cool is that?!

    Karen

  3. Cindy

    Rachel, what a great list. Thanks for a year of fantastic insights into friendship!

  4. Lorrie Paige

    I’ve learned in 2010 regarding friendships–or any kind of relationship–that it’s very important to know early between staying with someone because nobody’s perfect and we all have issues to a certain degree, and leaving someone and moving on because the relationship is indeed toxic and will lead to disappointment.

    I’ve also learned that everyone should be there own BFF! :) It may sound corny but it’s so important to be your own best friend too.

    HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

  5. Rachel, I enjoyed reading your insights of what you learned from friendship this year. For me, #1 and #2 particularly rang true. Looking forward to your posts in the upcoming year.

  6. Great list! Your blog has been instrumental in pushing me to expand my social network this year. I’m very grateful for your guidance and “friendship mentorship”!

    Your sage advice, adventurous spirit, and humorous personal experiences have galvanized me to seek out and cultivate new friendships with aplomb. Thank you so much!

  7. Jean

    I have definitely enjoyed your blog this year and have been inspired to make some changes in my own life. Happy New Year! Here’s to a great 2011!

  8. Suzannah

    What I have learned about friendships in 2010…well I have absolutely learned that it is,like everything else in life, you get back what you put into it….and like everything else, it gets harder with age!!…
    I love what you wrote today….you reminded me of something about myself, that I had forgotten… I am also pretty brave!!!….gotta tuck that in my pocket for 2011…..
    Ps. Somehow I thought we would be driving flying cars,by now!..2011 just sounds so sci-fi!

  9. Shannon

    Rachel,

    Thank you so much for sharing your friending experiences with us. Each post touches on some thought or feeling I’ve had at one time or another and your humorous approach has allowed me to laugh at myself and move forward at times. It’s just nice to hear someone else has felt or thought the same way…makes me feel a little less crazy! :) Plus, you and I clearly have the same taste in television & movies, so your character and situational comparisons make perfect sense to me! Love it!

    I agree with Karen in that your efforts have made this world a friendlier place…here’s to a friendly 2011! Cheers!

    • Thanks Shannon! I’m so touched that you say I helped you laugh at yourself.. it’s so important, especially in the awkward world of friending!

      Happy new year!

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