“I just don’t think we’re there yet.”
It’s one of my oft-uttered lines about new friends. I’ve said it to Matt when he’s encouraged me to ask a coworker out to a last-minute brunch on a Saturday morning. I’ve repeated it to my mom when she’s suggested I call a new friend on a quiet Friday night. I’ve thought it to myself when I’ve wanted to text someone about my four jars of pickles or call her to vent about a bad day. In each of those cases I’ve held back because I didn’t think my new friends and I were “there yet.”
For a long time I’ve maintained that I had to wait until I had a BFF in order to cry on her shoulder, call at the last minute, ask for a ride to the airport. But I’m starting to think I got the order wrong.
If I wait until someone local is my best friend forever before making that just-to-say-hi call, I might not be dialing for a good long while. I still remember being a freshman in high school when Callie, then just a friendly acquaintance, walked up to me in the hallway and declared “I’m going to call you tonight.” She did, we talked for hours (or maybe 30 minutes, but in my memory it was hours), and were BFF ever after. The call came first, the bestfriendship followed.
The lesson here: It’s not the relationship that warrants the call. It’s the call that establishes the relationship.
Likewise, I’ve always thought that someone needs to be my best friend before I would bother her with my tears after a bad day. Now I feel like it’s that kind of sobfest that would earn someone BFF status. In those moments—the phone call, the tears—you’re communicating that you trust this person, that you count on them and that they can do the same.
It dawned on me this weekend, when I was trying to think of someone I could ask to join me for a night out. I had Saturday night plans to go to a party where I wouldn’t know anyone. I mentioned it to a faraway friend, explaining that if this were NYC I would ask one of my BFFs to accompany me just to be nice. But here in Chicago? I didn’t feel like I could ask anyone to sacrifice their evening to come with me to a random party, just as a favor. That’s the kind of thing you request of a best friend. And then it dawned on me: I could have asked someone. I have new friends who may not be BFFs (yet!) but they are the type who are always up for something new and fun. And a party night out, just the two of us, could have been the perfect platform to elevate the friendship to BFFness.
So I had a lightbulb moment. I could wait (maybe forever) for someone to magically become my BFF, or I could do what was necessary to turn someone into my BFF. Instead of saying “we’re not there yet” about a friend, I could just, you know, get us there.
Somebody’s got to.
Do you ever do that? Avoid reaching out to someone because you think your friendship hasn’t reached “that level”? And has “that level” ever been reached without one of you making the first move? Telling a secret or making a phone call? Do you agree that the only way to get “there” is to make it happen ?