A Little Help From My Friends…

As I mentioned earlier this week, I’m heading out of town today for a trip to Hong Kong. As you might imagine, I’m plenty excited. And I’ve decided that, like last year when I went to Croatia, I don’t want to blog over vacation.

But never fear, dear readers. I wouldn’t leave you hanging. (‘Cause clearly having this blog to read every day is what gets you up in the morning. Clearly.) Perhaps you remember that last summer I asked the important people in my life, those who’d been witnessing my search firsthand, to write about how my year of friending affected them. My husband, my mom, my brother, and my two best friends each wrote funny and insightful pieces about their take on BFF searching.

This year, now that the “official” year of friending is over (although, is the quest for friendship ever really finished? I think not) I thought I’d ask for guest posts from some of the women themselves. People are always asking me, “Do the girls you pick up think you’re weird?” “Do they know about your blog?” “Did you make any new friends?” My usual answers are “Maybe,” “Sometimes” and “Of course!” But over the next six days, I thought you might as well hear it straight from them. What they thought, how they’ve changed (or not), and if they do, in fact, think I’m crazy. (Spoiler alert! Most are pretty kind.)

In collecting the posts over the past few weeks, I’ve laughed, gotten choked up, and been totally surprised. But one of the most interesting things about reading them, for me, was how much I learned both about my new friends, and about my new friendships.

As a writer, I’ve always felt more comfortable putting my thoughts onto paper than speaking them aloud. If I want to tell a friend how much she means to me, I put it in a card. If I have a complaint or confrontation, I communicate that in writing, too. In fact, a few months ago, a coworker actually called me out for having trouble with emotion. Perhaps it’s true. When friends get all lovey with me in person, I get awkward and make a lame joke when I should be grateful. But I’d say that I simply have trouble with open declarations of emotion. Written ones are my forte.

Turns out it’s not just me. Most of us are more willing to make ourselves vulnerable in writing than in person. When reading the upcoming guest blogs, in each case I thought “that’s what she thought?” or “I never knew that!” It’s always fascinating to hear someone’s first impression of you–what are the things they remember? And do your memories sync up?–but I’m struck by how open women get about the nuance and importance of friendship when they’re writing it down, and how nonchalant we are about it when speaking. It’s curious, no?

When telling your friends how much they mean to you, do you do it better in writing? Or in person? Why are we more willing to be vulnerable on paper (or virtual blog paper)? And have you ever been surprised to learn of someone’s first impression of you?

Have a great week everyone! I’ll be back next Monday. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy learning about my search from the flip side. I know I have!

4 Comments

Filed under The Search

4 responses to “A Little Help From My Friends…

  1. I always do better writing things down. That’s why I am so thankful for email. Even when my husband and I were dating over a decade ago, if we were fighting, I would write him a letter because I can’t stumble over my words.

  2. I have always loved writing. And I think that one of the reasons is that I do convey myself better on paper than in words – I don’t know what it is. I have changed my mediums at times. In high school, when I was going through tough times, I turned to poetry. In college, when I was upset or angry I just journaled. Upon cleaning out my things from college I found many pages of paper from when I went into the study lounge (because I didn’t want to wake up my roommate and wasn’t going to take my computer) that I had vented ideas and thoughts on (some of these were legitimate upset writings -some were drunk musings). I also started typing documents with thoughts/feelings (I tend to password protect the ones that I don’t want people to read). So, yes, I do much better in writing.
    Today, I still have some issues. But I blog about a certain topic and I journal every day. And I find that it really helps – to get my thoughts out, to organize my thoughts, to see my patterns of thinking. I once emailed one of my daily journalings to a friend for her input and she was like – wow, that is a lot of stuff right there. I was like, yeah.
    I don’t know what it is about writing that is easier – maybe something to muse about?
    (Oops. Wrote a little more than I intended. I’ll leave it as is, but I apologize for the rambling.)

    • Also meant to say, have a wonderful trip and I’m looking forward to reading your friends POV.
      (The other thing I like about writing – I feel like I can be self-absorbed sometimes while I’m doing it…oops again!)

  3. I have to admit – I’m better on paper than in person, and I don’t know why that is. By the same token, when someone tells me something that (were I the speaker) I would have never said out loud, that does a couple of things for me – one, it gives me a model of how I can better express things in person, but two, it gives me the opportunity to reciprocate right then. Maybe it’s because there is a protective distance that, I think, gives us some plausible deniability if our expression of whatever emotion isn’t taken in the spirit/way it was meant. Then again, writing allows us time to really think about and edit what we want to say and how we say it, so I don’t know.

    As far as how people take me, I try to not think about it – there was a girl in my school when I was in 7th/8th grade who read my diary and told everyone about what I had written (it was a very small school!). I was humiliated, so I stopped writing at all – and, I stopped confiding in anyone because I was afraid of being laughed at. Once I realized that what other people said/thought about me was as much about them as it was about me, and that they were … as likely to be anxious and insecure about their own stuff as they were critical or whatever about mine, I was able to let it go in one ear and out the other much better. Now, as long as I’m not being a complete ass, I try to not care at all what other people think. (With varying degrees of success!)

    If you don’t mind, Rachel, when you get back, I have a question: once someone is your friend, do you really need to spend time with them to maintain the friendship? If so, how much?

    An old Scandinavian proverb put this in my mind: “Go often to the house of your friend, for weeds soon choke up the unused path.” It’s one thing when geographical distance or death or something physically keeps you from being with the ones you care about, but if you live physically close enough to living friends, and you don’t spend any time together, are you still friends, or just “people (I/you) used to know?”

    Hope you have a great vacation!

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