Ever had it happen that you read something and totally gloss over it, and then when you happen upon the same passage a second time it resonates so deeply that you think you might have found the answer to meaning of life?
That happened to me today. Not the secret of existence necessarily, but certainly a major insight into friendship searching. I was sifting through some of my research and came across a passage from The Lonely American by Jacqueline Olds and Richard Schwartz that made an animated lightbulb appear directly over my head.
“Small daily choices end up defining one’s social world—whether to go to a local store or order off the Internet. Whether to pick up a ringing telephone or let it go to voice mail; whether to get together with a friend for coffee or pop a DVD into the home theater. These little decisions are powerful because they are cumulative, and they fuel a vicious cycle. You step back a little from others. They step back a little from you. You feel a little left out. Feeling left out, when unexamined, leads you to step back farther. Feeling left out, when examined, can lead you to work a little harder to reconnect.”
A BFF search, at its core, is not about grand gestures. It’s the accumulation of little decisions that force you to interact with the world around you. Sometimes those interactions amount to nothing. Sometimes you can consciously decide to turn them into something by transforming that passing “we should get together!” into “What date works for you?” And sometimes, really special times, relationships emerge almost effortlessly, because you are two peas in a pod. Made for each other.
I’ve been guilty of making each “wrong” choice in Olds and Schwartz’s example. I’ve ordered a book from Amazon instead of walking to the bookstore. I’ve screened calls. Lots of them. I’ve passed on drinks so I could watch Thursday night medical dramas. And what I’ve learned is not just that you don’t make any BFFs while sitting alone on your couch, but also that if you decide to stand back from the social world often enough—to stay in when you’ve been invited out—people will think that’s where you want to be always.
What do you think of that passage? Might it be the answer for BFF searchers everywhere?
Happy long weekend everyone, and happy birthday America. I hope you all enjoy some great in-person—not virtual!—fireworks. And lots of yummy food off the barbie. See you Tuesday…