Does Locally Friendless Equal Awkward?

An actual conversation from the bachelorette party I attended this weekend:

New Friend: Rachel, I’ve never really hung out with you before. You are so different than I thought you’d be.

Me: Why, what did you think I would be?

New Friend: I don’t know, when I heard about your book and how it was about new friends…

Me: You thought I’d be weird and awkward?

New Friend: Well, I thought you might be awkward since you had so much trouble making friends. But you’re great! You could make lots of friends!

I loved everything about this conversation. I especially loved how honest she was. She thought my difficulty with making new BFFs meant I was socially awkward, and who can blame her. I don’t hold the assumption that I was some weirdo against her at all. There was a time that I, too, would have thought some friendless blogger must be a sad sack. To be honest, I found the fact that my new friend admitted as much to be totally hilarious and awesome. I couldn’t stop laughing. “Nope, I’m pretty normal!”

Author Allison Winn Scotch wrote an interesting blog post yesterday about the line between personal and too personal, in writing. She’d recently published an essay she wasn’t sure about, because it revealed personal information about her past. I admitted, in the comments section of her blog, that I was originally embarrassed to make my search public, for fear of making myself too vulnerable.

I remember the day I first thought about writing my book proposal. It occurred to me that if I wanted to write a friendship memoir,  I would have to come out with my “secret”: I was short on local friends. I was totally humiliated. Who wants to go public with a big sign, “Will Work For Friends”? Would writing that I didn’t know how to find that special someone make me look pathetic? Did I want to advertise the fact that I was feeling bestfriendless? I was sure  people would laugh at me, and I really didn’t want to be a different kind of biggest loser.

We know how this story ends: I decided to write the proposal, and then later the book and blog, and I eventually realized that my worst fears were totally off-base. The people I heard from weren’t writing to say I was lame (except for when they were), they were writing to say “I’ve been there!” and “I thought I was the only one.”

If the above conversation had taken place a year and a half ago, my reaction would have been one of embarrassment and frustration. But now that I have a year of friending under my belt, and a year and a half of connecting with others (online and off) in my same circumstances, I’ve actually developed a lot of pride in my situation. I’m not socially awkward, I’m just honest. And determined. (And maybe, fine, awkward in those uncomfortable girl-date moments, but who’s keeping track?)

Have you ever been embarrassed to admit you were on a friend search? Or (be honest! I don’t mind!) did you think, at first, that maybe there was something wrong with me that I was admitting trouble making friends? And, have things changed?

12 Comments

Filed under The Search

12 responses to “Does Locally Friendless Equal Awkward?

  1. San

    Yeah. I feel a bit embarrassed that I am on a friend search. Especially because I do have a lot of friends (just not local) and I am not socially awkward…. it’s just a lack of opportunity, I think. I’ve been really enjoying your blog and I am so glad you wrote this proposal (and this blog) to share with us.

  2. Rachel, your blog, has been so encouraging and inspiring! I can’t tell you how much I admire your honesty and determination! More power to you! You have given me fresh ideas, and a sense of confidence in my own pursuit of new friendships, an ongoing journey for all of us!

  3. Naz

    I am not embrassed to admit it, I am on a friend search. I totally get it now Rachel. I am moving to Long Island, NY and I don’t have a single friend here. Even worse, I am “joining” a community that is nearly impossible to break into. They have all known each other since they were like 2 years old and they have been in the same circle of friends their entire lives and they basically are not looking for new ones. These circles continue into their adult lives, their hudbands join, and then their kids. There are rules and regulations to these circles and they are very exclusive. I miss Chicago and my normal friends! I am not awkward, I am very social and outgoing and I can’t seem to make any friends here. :(

  4. I recently had an experience that felt a lot like Monica on Friends leaving the message for Richard saying she was “breezy.” In my church we’re assigned other women to reach out to once a month, check in on them, make sure everything is OK and see if you can do anything for them. In the best situations these assignments turn into great friendships, and at worst they never respond to you. I’m new in my area and attending a new church so I called and left a message basically saying “I’m new, I want friends, call me back.” Oh, it was embarrassing, and no, she never called back. And now I’m too embarrassed to call her again!

  5. Megan

    I was actually relieved that someone out there was brave enough to admit that she was looking for what most of us are looking for. It’s kind of a shame that some people would label such a brave, relational move as “pathetic” – they’re missing out (and probably not being honest with themselves, either…

  6. Niki

    I’ve literally shouted mine from the rooftops, but mostly because I had your experience to point to! I always say to new friends, ‘I’m a big fan of this blog, and the author is just really intentional and deliberate in her friendships, and I’m trying to do that, too.’ You’ve been a brilliant ice breaker! And when someone cute and normal (like you!) is cutting the path, it makes it easier to talk about. So THANK YOU!

  7. Ana

    I was a little dismayed to hear your new friend’s original thoughts–that anyone who admits that they need more friends are socially awkward. Are “normal” people really expected to move somewhere new and spontaneously and immediately develop an amazing group of BFFs? I feel like so many women (and men, probably, just not that I know of personally) are in the same situation and probably just don’t want to admit it. And, as we all know, the first step to solving the problem is admitting that the problem exists! So, yes, THANK YOU for putting yourself out there to show that fun, normal people can have trouble meeting friends. You are raising awareness of an important issue!

  8. I loved your idea from the minute I heard it. I’ve SO been having moved to Minneapolis at 23 and only knowing my husband who was not at all helpful in the BFF-making department.

  9. Maria

    I always thought you were cool from the first time I read your blog, never a “loser” as my kids would say. You are just telling it like it is, and being really brave. I love how your readers are now using “friend date” or “girl date” to describe a meeting with a potential or new friend. You are a trend setter too.

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