I’ve been thinking about friends a lot recently. I write about friends a lot, but I still feel lonely very frequently. I know that depression can make someone feel irrationally lonely. But I think there’s some rationale to it. Looking back over all my “friend” posts, I’m struck by how many of those friends aren’t the best friend types. Perhaps it’s all characterized by the recurring nightmare I have: what if I get really, really sick??? who’s going to be there for me, take me to endless doctor’s appointments, live with me in the hospital, be my advocate, etc?
In my posts, I’ve realized that there are multiple categories of people:
– awesome girlfriends who drop everything to spend the night or put thoughtful cards in your mailbox
– prayerful friends with open ears and patience: Timothy & Walt in particular
– advocates & friends within the medical community: people like Drs. Leo & Samuel and Elliot
– lifelong best friends who live an airplane flight away: Alana and Tabitha
– furry friends such as Eeyore
not to mention the plenty of friendly people who I interact with in daily routine.
While I may not be alone, I don’t know that I have a solution to the hospital scene. The two awesome girlfriends are actually the only people I’ve had drive me to appointments here. But one of the awesome girlfriends just moved to California and the other one will be out of the town or out of the country until late August. Both Alana & Tabitha are visiting this summer, but otherwise I’m stuck with remote friends or people like Timothy or Dr. Leo who are great but not exactly BFF-material. Furry friends have a definite place in my life, but they’re not exactly BFF-material either!! Plus, what if I need to try on a bridesmaid dress (again)? What if I just want to have a movie night or cook with some of my friends? Who’s going to come to that?? Virtual friends aren’t that great for cookie parties.
I’ve been reading Rachel Bertsche’s MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend. In a lot of ways we’re really different. First off, I’m not a married white female (MWF). Secondly, I’m not an irreligious professional woman living in a big city looking for someone to wine and dine with. Thirdly, I do not have the time or energy that Rachel exhibits. 52 dates with 52 different people within a year? Is she crazy?
But I think the central line of the book still rings true. There’s something special about friends that live in the same place as you. There’s also something to be said for the fact that some women are made happy when surrounded by friends that are their own. And being able to be friendly to other people around you? That’s definitely a first step to become a person with best friends (BFF).*
I like Rachel’s intentionality. She is bold to meet new people, to venture into uncharted territory, and to invite people into her home. She’s willing to endure a large number of failed friend-dates in order to meet a real BFF. So many of us complain that it’s hard to have real life friends in this electronic world of technology. While that may be true, how many of us step out of technological bounds to meet people in the real world? Rachel writes,
It’s not that people are less civilized, it’s just that we think they are, and so we act accordingly. We don’t reach out unsolicited for fear of being rejected. We don’t talk to new people because we assume that they don’t want to be bothered. But as I continue to pursue friendships, I’m constantly surprised at how receptive people are.
It takes effort to make friends. After all, I only became close to Alana and Tabitha once I flew or drove out to visit them multiple times. At some point, we got to the point that we talked about everything together. It takes time to get acquainted and to feel comfortable being around someone. And there will be moments when people who should be great friends will let you down. But at the same time, good friends will introduce you to other good people. Timothy and Grace are moving in eight weeks, but, in the mean time, there are great people at their church that they are introducing me to. I don’t need everyone in the world to be my best friend. So perhaps new friendships will sprout where old ones are flourishing.
This long post goes to show that I’m challenged with this notion of friendship. As much as I want BFFs, how can I realize that practically? How can I be myself & be someone’s BFF? But I’m discovering that as much as study and intellectual exercise helps, we learn best by doing.
Refusing to be subdued by the fear of loneliness,
*In case you’re like my dad and you don’t know what BFFs are, it stands for Best Friends Forever. Why Forever? Well the acronym “bf” (note the lower case spelling) is already taken by “boyfriend”. To distinguish, we say “BFF” & yes, we really do call each other “BFFs”.